The Taupō triathlete outlines his blueprint to be the ‘best in the world’

By Kent Gray/
Kyle Smith has merited fleeting mentions at best as Ironman insiders everywhere have offered their best guesses for glory ahead of the world championship’s long-awaited return to Kona.

You get the impression the uber-focused Taupō triathlete kind of likes it that way, for the time being at least, as he searches for the last “piece of the puzzle” to be a genuine contender. Whether he’s found that competitive marathon time to hang tough in the oppressive heat of Kona this time round remains to be seen but, rest assured, the 25-year-old has a plan. And nowhere in the blueprint is there any intention of racing under the radar.

“As an athlete, I’m extremely hungry,” Smith told PTO ahead of the 2022 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship on Hawaii’s Big island.

“I’m not in the sport to get rich, I’m in the sport to be the best in the world and where I am at the moment, I really believe that I’m a better athlete than I guess I’ve shown on paper.

“I really feel like I’ve got two of the disciplines world-class, the swim and the bike…and now there’s just one more piece of the puzzle and that’s the run. I’ve been working really hard recently to make that run also world-class but it takes time.”

Smith has endured a frustrating year complicated by a bout of COVID. But he showed with an 11th placing at the 2021 worlds, held over to this past May in St. George, Utah courtesy of the pandemic, that he has the potential to disrupt any race.

He led off the bike in Utah before fading badly in the back half of the run but that has only added fuel to the fire, a singular obsession to learn the nuisances of his craft and become the “best athlete I can be”.

“The 2021 IRONMAN World Championship in St. George was a great confidence builder, leading off the bike and onto the first part of the run was amazing,” Smith said ahead of the pro men’s race which set to take the cannon at Kailua Bay on October 8 (5.25am Sunday, Oct. 9 NZT).

“Unfortunately, the day didn’t go to plan, and I struggled the back half of the run. I will be putting what I learnt there into the Kona race and hopefully not fading as hard in the back half of the race.

“A lot of it came down to pacing and strategy. I definitely burnt a few matches where I couldn’t afford to do so I’m hoping in Kona that I can keep a more level head and execute the best race possible.”

Smith wasn’t happy with his most recent race either, 24th place in the PTO U.S. Open in Dallas last month when he again faded on the run. But he has stuck to his training guns, convinced he’s doing the right things as an Insta post this week highlighted.

“Ridden the course a total of 4 times. Cumulatively not consecutively. My getting passed on the Queen K count is up to 17. Got scared by the Norwegians Strava 6 times. Done zero lactate tests. And 100% believe in what I’m doing ”

“Obviously, the Norwegians are super strong and to watch out for,” he continued in his PTO interview. “I think a dark horse could be Magnus Ditlev, Collin Chartier and I mean, hopefully myself.”

If hard work is the solution, then Smith’s approach cannot be faltered.

“Everyone always talks about the sacrifice that they have to make to get into a sport, but it wasn’t really a sacrifice [for me]. I chose a life. It’s just something I do to give me fulfilment in life. I couldn’t see myself doing any other job than this.

“I think triathlon is a sport where hard work is rewarded. It’s a brutal sport, we’re training more than 30 hours a week and it’s almost a sport where the more you put into it, the more you get out of it, unlike some other sports where talent kind of prevails a lot more.”

Photo: @Simongehr

So don’t be surprised if Smith features or fades in Kona, or perhaps does a little of both. It’s all part of the long-term plan.

“In five years I hope that I’ll be one of the best athletes in the world and it’s just committing now to five years in the future.

“It’s quite hard to see that far forward but hopefully committing now, being patient and just being relentless in the dedication of perfection I guess. You’re never going to get to perfection, but the closer you can get to it is…yeah, I guess then I’ll be the best athlete in the world.”

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