Podcast 56: Miguel Hidalgo on bouncing back and breaking through
Brazil’s Miguel Hidalgo hails from a small town in the interior of São Paulo state. Following breakout performances in the World Triathlon Cup Huatulco and Championship Series Montreal in 2021, he heads into the new season full of confidence.
An off-season bookended by Junior Pan American Games success in Cali in November and silver in the South Americas Championships in Villarrica, Chile, the 21-year-old now has his sights set firmly on a full WTCS campaign and a first podium at the top level.
As a teenager, small-town life quickly became big-city living for Miguel Hidalgo. From the serenity of his birthplace, Salto, to Brazil’s Olympic Training Centre Pinheiros in the booming metropolis that is São Paulo, it was quite the change to have to handle at the age of 15, but stood him in good stead for the demands of life on the triathlon road.
A young career has already been action-packed. The Rotterdam Grand Final was the first taste of racing outside of South America and what he admits was an eye-opener for the European style of competition. His 60th place finish in Holland and then 58th in Gold Coast showed exactly where the work was needed to compete on the world stage.
“In South America, we are very used to swimming very hard and then just ride the bike easy almost every time… then it comes to a running race. So when you go to World Cup and WTCS level, it’s very different. So I’m still getting used to it, but hopefully I can improve that.
Always a strong swimmer, learning the hard way in racing has helped Hidalgo improve greatly on bike and run, finding particular success in the heat and over shorter distances, as evidenced at both Huatulco and Montreal.
“I had to change my technique a little bit from the pool to the open water, get a higher cadence. You can also breathe better with a higher cadence. It’s like Chase (McQueen) said in his podcast, sometimes when you go to a first WTCS race, you think that your swim isn’t going to be good enough. And I tend to start really, really hard. But now I’m learning how to start and not suffer so much at the end of the swim. Plus, I think I will only show my full potential on the run when I am able to not suffer so much on the bike.”
Someone who he has learned a lot from, particularly on the run side, is friend and training partner Manoel Messias. The sole Brazilian male on the start list, with Vittoria Lopes and Luisa Batista for the women.
One short of the four members required to form the Mixed Relay team, it was at the Lisbon Qualification event for the format’s Olympic debut that Hidalgo had one of his toughest experiences in the spotlight to date when, coming into T1 on the second leg, the zip on his wetsuit failed and, within a minute, the Brazil team’s race was over. It is an incident he is, however, able to take positives from.
“In Lisbon I got very criticised, but these people didn’t know what was really going on in the race. Brazilian fans didn’t know that Messias and Luisa and Vittoria were already qualified and they were blaming me, saying it was my fault Brazil is not going to be in the Olympics. They didn’t know the other guys were already qualified. They thought it was my fault that Brazil is not going to be in Tokyo. But it’s something that can happen with anyone - a world champion, Olympic champion or a young athlete.”
“I just tried to not be so much on Instagram that day just switch my focus to, to the race the next day. And I’m very proud I think I could deal very well with the situation - a couple of weeks later I got on the podium for the first time and then I’ve done some good races after that. So I didn’t let it become a big thing on my season, you know? I learned from my mistakes.”
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