CHEK Upside: Island triathlete achieves lifelong Olympic dream

WatchAs a young boy he watched Victoria's Simon Whitfield achieve Olympic immortality, now Matthew Sharpe is following in his hero's footsteps.

Triathletes like Matthew Sharpe are a special breed.

“You’ve got to hurt a little bit, in the right way of course,” said Sharpe, after finishing a fifteen hundred metre morning swim at Thetis Lake.

It’s a no-pain, no-gain sport Sharpe quickly fell in love with around two decades ago, when he watched Victoria’s Simon Whitfield cross the finish line at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

“I’d never really heard of triathlon until he won his gold medal,” said the 29-year-old. “Seeing him cross that finish line and achieve a huge moment for Canada, it was incredibly inspiring.”

Sharpe started competing as a preteen in his hometown Campbell River, before moving to Victoria as a teen and eventually becoming a national champion. It wasn’t long before he was training alongside his heroes in the sport.

“Well, this is the fifth Olympics that I’ve coached Canadian athletes for, and Matt is definitely cut from the same cloth as his predecessors,” said Lance Watson, former coach of Whitfield and now Sharpe. “The sharing of knowledge and the passing of the baton from generation to generation is very powerful in this community.”

After a year-long delay due to the pandemic, Sharpe only recently found out he’ll be representing Canada on the sports biggest stage.

“It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to compete at the Olympics and to represent Canada,” said the Claremont Secondary grad. “We almost didn’t have this opportunity, so I’m seriously just so grateful.”

“I’m most proud of him in the person he’s become,” said Barb Sharpe, Matthew’s mother. “He’s shown an incredible amount of determination, grit and perseverance through all of this.”

Following in the footsteps of a Canadian icon, Matthew Sharpe is now ready to write his own Olympic story.

“Our goal is to come back with a medal so I’m very excited for that opportunity.”

Sharpe is scheduled to race Sunday, July 25 at 2:30 p.m.

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Kevin CharachKevin Charach

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