Tyler Smith hails career-best performance in Portugal
Tyler Smith hailed the most complete performance of his career after securing an impressive fifth place in the Europe Triathlon Cup Coimbra, in Portugal.
Building on the momentum of a highly encouraging start to the season, which included an eighth-place finish in Olsztyn, Poland, the 23-year-old managed to secure the highest placing of his senior triathlon career yesterday, competing among the highly competitive Elite Men’s field.
Having completed the 750-metre swim in 8min 55sec to exit the water among the leading group, Smith powered his way into contention on the bike, finishing the 19-kilometre course in a blistering time of 25:35, the fastest among the field.
Establishing himself within a breakaway group heading into the final transition, Smith just had to remain steady on his weakest of the three disciplines, the 5km run, to guarantee a top-five finish. Clocking a respectable time of 15:34, the Bermudian athlete crossed the line in an overall time of 51:19, less than 40 seconds adrift of Portuguese Vasco Vilaca’s winning time of 50:44.
“For sure that was definitely one of my best performances ever,” said Smith, who clinched a highly respectable 37th-place finish last week in the AJ Bell 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds — his first time competing at the highest level of elite triathlon. “Not only was it my highest finish in senior racing, but I also feel like it was one of my most accomplished performances in terms of what I did throughout the race.
“After enjoying the experience of racing at the highest level in Leeds, it gave me a huge boost and confidence in knowing what I needed to do moving forward. Coming into this race, I wanted to be aggressive from the start and so I pushed hard in the swim and then attacked on the bike.
“I knew the competition was going to be tough, so I needed to work as hard as possible. On a personal level I need the race to become attritional and have it where you try and get rid of as many people in the leading group before the run.
“Because I know I’m not going to run the fastest run, it’s just the way I have to race. I felt like I managed to manufacture that situation and I was really proud with how I comfortable I felt and how I managed to control certain aspects of the race.
“Overall it was another good experience and the results have been really encouraging at the start of this season. I’m managing to have consistent races and it’s given me the confidence to keep doing what I’ve been doing because I feel like I’m on the path and trajectory.”
As well as enjoying a consistent run, Smith’s impressive early-season form has also seen him gain sense of personal vindication.
Having seen his faint hopes of reaching the Olympic Games dashed owing to a combination of failing to secure qualification and the Bermuda Olympic Association’s decision not to apply for a Tripartite Commission Invitation place, Smith conceded to having a point to prove, even if only to himself.
“Missing out on the Olympic Games definitely acted as motivation to myself,” he added. “I’ve felt like I had a point to prove to myself and in Leeds there was certainly some motivation from knowing I was racing against a lot of guys who were going to the Olympics.
“It was a big competition and going into it I wanted to see how I compared against those athletes. It’s been great competing strongly in and among those guys this year and it’s given me huge confidence.
“I’m getting consistent results and things feel like they have clicked. I’m progressing and gaining confidence in what I’m doing. Hopefully I can keep pushing on and progress further. I want to be among the best in the world; that’s my aspiration.
“I’ve moved on from the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics; I feel like I’m moving in the right direction and I have confidence and trust in the process. My main focus is now on the Under-23 World Championships in Canada in August and then the Commonwealth Games next year.”