Emma Jeffcoat and Jaz Hedgeland in action

Emma Jeffcoat and Jaz Hedgeland in action. Credit: Triathlon Australia/Twitter

Three legs, three medals, and plenty of high hopes and storylines. Learn everything you need to know for the Triathlon at Tokyo 2020.

Triathlon at Tokyo 2020 has three gold medals available, one in the male event and one in the female event and one in a new mixed relay event. For all your Olympic coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.

Triathlon was first included in the Olympics in 2000, with an iconic finish at the Sydney Opera House a lasting memory. Since then, each of the triathlon events at the Olympics have been single-gender, standard distance triathlons (1500m swim, 40km ride and 10km run).

How the race works

Athletes start in a massed swim start, diving off a pontoon together in a group. Swimmers will swim 1500m in the water, and will all be wary of kicking, and other contact that often happens in the water.

Once swimmers get out of the water, they run into transition and will grab their bicycles. They are not allowed to mount the bike and start riding until they exit the transition area, and can be disqualified if they fail to do this.

On the bike, riders are allowed to draft and ride in a bunch and will ensure that they use the time on the bike to fuel with gels and carbohydrates. As athletes finish the ride leg, they must dismount before entering transition and must put their bikes on the rack before they start on the run leg.

The winner is the first athlete to cross the finish line at the end of the run leg.

This time is different

As part of Tokyo 2020 being the most gender-equal Olympics ever, a third medal is up for grabs in the Triathlon. The new gold medal is for a mixed-gender triathlon relay.

The relay consists of teams of four (two women and two men, alternating), each completing a short triathlon (300m swim, 8km ride, 2km run), before tagging the next athlete who will do the same course.

The relay format has been raced at the World Championships since 2009, but this is the first time it has been raced at the Olympics.

Last Time Around

Gwen Jorgensen (USA) was one of a pack of more than 15 women who left the water together, the same group came in quite close together at the end of the ride and included both Emma Moffatt and Erin Densham (both AUS).

In the run, Jorgensen’s speed was the difference, as she finished 40 seconds ahead of Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Vicky Holland (GBR). Moffatt ended up finishing in seventh, and Densham in 12th.

Alistair Brownlee (gold) and his brother Jonathan (bronze), both from Great Britain came to Rio 2016 as favourites after their hometown success four years earlier. It was not misplaced faith, as they were two of the fastest out of the water at the end of the swim.

While they were caught on the bike leg and entered the final transition, there was a sense of the inevitable. And inevitable it was, as the Brownlee brothers pulled ahead. Alistair would finish six seconds ahead of Jonathan, to defend his title, and Henri Schoeman (RSA) finished third.

Both silver medallists will be returning, with the hope of going one better this time. Nicola Spirig will be hoping to go one better, and Jonathan Brownlee will be hoping to complete his medal set, with his brother not returning to defend his title again.

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Aussie Hopes

Aaron Royle and Ashleigh Gentle are the returning athletes from Rio. Royle has a top ten finish behind him, as he hopes to improve at Tokyo and compete for medals.

Gentle has won medals at World Triathlon Championships in recent years, including gold at the 2018 World Triathlon Grand Final. Having tasted Olympic experience at Rio, Gentle is determined to taste Olympic medal success, and improve on her result at Rio 2016.

Matthew Hauser is one of the less experienced members of the team. At just 23, he makes his Olympic debut after a prolific start to his career. He has finished on the podium of World Triathlon events 23 times and on the top step 18 times.

He missed the podium by two seconds at the 2018 Commonwealth Games but was part of the Mixed Relay Team that won gold, with the fastest individual leg of the event.

Hauser is just getting started, and while he may be a bolter for a medal at Tokyo, the experience gives him an exciting future in the sport.

Full Aussie Team

Jacob BirtwhistleDebut
Ashleigh GentleRio 2016
Matthew HauserDebut
Jaz HedgelandDebut
Emma JeffcoatDebut
Aaron RoyleRio 2016

The Triathlon at Tokyo 2020 will be held over three events over five days. The men’s triathlon is on 26 July and the women’s triathlon is on 27 July. The mixed triathlon relay is on 31 July.

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