Triathlon Mixed Relay’s Olympic Debut Ready To Take Centre Stage At Tokyo 2020

Credit: Original article can be found here

Two
incredible individual triathlon races down, one spectacular
team relay to come. The stage is set for Tokyo 2020 to
witness arguably the greatest team competition of the
Olympic Games: four world-class athletes, two women, two
men, each tackling all three disciplines and with all the
grit and grind of triathlon fizzing across the super-sprint
format. It may be its Olympic debut in Tokyo, but wherever
you are watching, it is the hottest ticket in
town.

The Odaiba Bay venue is the same as the
individual, the course more compact. Each leg will start
with a 300m swim, transitioning into a 6.8km (two lap) bike
and finishing with a 2km (two lap) run. This will be full
gas from the start, the leaders will chop and change, the
handovers will be spectacular, the tension will reach
boiling point and the team that eventually takes the tape
and wins those first ever Triathlon Mixed Relay Olympic gold
medals will be forever written into the sport’s
history.

Saturday 07:30am local time and 00:30 CEST
(Friday 11:30pm BST and 6:30pm
Eastern).


There will be 17 teams taking to
the pontoon start, South Africa sadly having to withdraw
after Henri
Schoeman
suffered a stress fracture in his foot on
Monday. For the remainder, the squads are officially
submitted at Thursday’s briefing and the final line-ups
confirmed two hours before the start of the race. Late
changes and team tactics are all part of the beautifully
unpredictable format.

Unlike the individual race,
however, the start lists are drawn from the world rankings,
meaning Team France – World Champions the past three years
in a row – will wear the number ones. Leonie
Periault
and Cassandre
Beaugrand
could well go out first and third just as they
did in the team’s 2018 and 2020 title wins, while two of
Vincent
Luis
, Leo
Bergere
and Dorian
Coninx
will race legs two and four. There will be
massive extra incentive for the talented squad to leave
Tokyo with a medal, and a good start will be vital to settle
the nerves.

Second-ranked Australia were the only
nation to have qualified the maximum three men and three
women for Tokyo 2020, bringing both the added bonus of a
wider pool of talent to choose from and the agony of choice
for the selectors. The line ups have varied in recent years,
but the team last topped the podium in Abu Dhabi two years
ago, with Ashleigh
Gentle
on the opening leg, Emma
Jeffcoat
and Jacob
Birtwhistle
on three and four. Birtwhistle is widely
considered to have one of the strongest final legs in the
business.

The USA wear the number three, with Olympic
bronze medalist Katie
Zaferes
, Summer
Rappaport
and Taylor
Knibb
to choose between for the two women’s legs.
Perennial podium finishers in recent years, you have to go
back to Nottingham 2018 for their last team gold, but Morgan
Pearson
will want to put in a massive leg after a
disappointing individual result by his recent standards,
while Kevin
McDowell
will still be riding high despite the exertions
of his sixth place finish just a few days ago.

Wearing
number four will be Team GB, and with four Olympic medalists
to call upon from a possible five squad members: Alex
Yee
and Georgia
Taylor-Brown
, Jonathan
Brownlee
and Vicky
Holland
. Jessica
Learmonth
also has a very strong case for selection and
provided a brilliant opening leg at the Tokyo Test Event,
while Brownlee was involved in all three of Great
Britain’s World title winning teams in 2011, 2012 and
2014.

New Zealand will wear the five, a young team but
with great experience already having raced together multiple
times and most recently won the U23/Junior World
Championships in Lausanne back in 2019. Hayden
Wilde
and Tayler
Reid
both had outstanding individual races, 23-year-old
Wilde winning Olympic bronze, Ainsley
Thorpe
will want to bounce back from bad luck early on
the bike while Nicole
Van Der Kaay
, the oldest of the team at 25, finished a
strong 29th on Tuesday.

Team Belgium – aka The
Belgian Hammers – can really hit their groove when the
quartet of Claire
Michel
, Jelle
Geens
, Valerie
Barthelemy
and Marten
Van Riel
line up together. Bronze at the European
Championships, winners of the qualification event in Lisbon,
Geens was sadly missing from the individual races on Monday
and touched down in Tokyo fresh, hungry and determined to
help the team to the podium. As long as Claire Michel’s
calf injury is not as bad as first feared, the Hammers will
be big contenders.

Team Germany’s selection criteria
for the Olympic Games made their priorities clear: they held
a qualification event over the super-sprint format that saw
Anabel
Knoll
and Justus
Nieschlag
confirmed alongside Laura Lindemann and Jonas
Schomburg
for the team. The Netherlands left their two
men off the individual start and keep them fresh for
Saturday morning, while Rachel
Klamer
delivered a majestic fourth-place finish and Maya
Kingma
recovered from a difficult start to finish 11th
and will be ready to help power the Dutch into
contention.

Switzerland were the first ever World
Champions back in 2009 and will have the combined talents of
Nicola
Spirig
, Jolanda
Annen
, Max
Studer
and Andrea
Salvisberg
lining up, all capable of delivering the
magic required to scoop that Olympic medal.

Spain will
have Mario
Mola
and Fernando
Alarza
teaming up with Miriam
Casillas Garcia
and Anna
Godoy Contreras
, Italy count on Angelica
Olmo
, Verena
Steinhauser
, Gianluca
Pozzatti
and Delian
Stateff
and Canada will be backing themselves with Joanna
Brown
and Amelie
Kretz
joining forces with Tyler
Mislawchuk
and Matthew
Sharpe
.

Hosts Japan have men’s individual race
top 20 finishers Kenji
Nener
and Makoto
Odakura
lining up with Niina
Kishimoto
and Yuko
Takahashi
, while Team Austria will see Lukas
Hollaus
and Alois
Knabl
join forces with Lisa
Perterer
and Julia
Hauser
.

Bence
Bicsak
stormed to 7th place on Monday and he, Tamas
Toth
, Zsanett
Bragmayer
and Zsofia
Kovacs
will line up for Team Hungary, the Polyanskiy
brothers Dmitry
and Igor,
Anastasia
Gorbunova
and Alexandra
Razarenova
go for the ROC and Irving
Perez
, Crisanto
Grajales
, Cecilia
Perez
and Claudia
Rivas
are set to go for Team Mexico.

Full start
lists will be available here
two hours before the
race

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