Sport Focus: 12 Things You Didn't Know About Triathlon

May 4, 2020

From its modern beginnings in the 1970s, Triathlon quickly made its mark, gaining status as an Olympic and Commonwealth sport, and is now a staple of these Games.  To round off our ‘Celebrating Our Past, Building Our Future’ Sport Focus, here are 12 things you might not know about the sport:

1. Following several events in the early 1900s featuring three sporting elements such as running, cycling and canoeing, the history of Triathlon as we know it dates back to the early 1970s and originated with the San Diego Track Club as an alternative to hard track training. The first modern Triathlon event was held on September 25, 1974.

2. Triathlon was a demonstration sport at the Auckland 1990 Commonwealth Games before making its debut as a medal event at Manchester 2002. Originally an optional sport it has now been elevated to core status, meaning it must be included each time the Games are held.

3. Mixed Team Relay, featuring two men and two women, was introduced at Glasgow 2014 and sees athletes compete in a super-sprint triathlon. Each athlete is required to complete a course of 250m open water swim, 7km cycle and 1.5km run, before tagging their team mate. The event returned for Gold Coast 2018 and will make its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

4. Marc Austin was Scotland’s first Commonwealth Games medallist in the sport, winning bronze at Gold Coast 2018.

5. Para-Triathlon made its debut at Gold Coast 2018 and it will return for Birmingham 2022. Paralympic Handcycling gold medallist Karen Darke became the first Scottish athlete to compete in Para-Triathlon at the Commonwealth Games. Since being paralysed from the chest down in a climbing accident age 21, the Inverness based athlete has pushed herself in an incredible series of challenges, alongside her sporting endeavours, all using just the power of her arms. These include crossing Greenland’s ice cap, hand-cycling from Canada to Mexico and climbing Mont Blanc, Matterhorn and El Capitan.

6. Eight nations have won medals in Commonwealth Games Triathlon. Australia have the highest medal tally with 12, while England boast the most gold medals with five.

7. At Gold Coast 2018 Flora Duffy won the first gold of the Games in the Women’s Individual Triathlon, taking Bermuda’s first Triathlon medal of any colour and becoming her country’s first ever female gold medallist.

8. For the first time in Commonwealth Games history, at Gold Coast 2018 the Triathlon took place over the Sprint distance; 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run. Previous Games have been run over the full Olympic distance – double the Sprint distance.

9. Triathlon has one of the fastest rises from conception to Olympic status on record. From its beginning in the 1970s, Triathlon gained Olympic status in 1989 and featured for the first time at the 2000 Sydney Olympics in Australia. Para-Triathlon was first included at Rio 2016.

10. Scottish triathletes have won multiple World and European medals at both Triathlon and Duathlon (running, cycling, running) most notably Catriona Morrison MBE, who won bronze at the 2007 World Long Distance Triathlon Championships and was twice World Duathlon champion, twice World Long Distance Duathlon champion and twice European Duathlon champion.

11. In 2018, 85 year old triathlete Hiromu Inada became the oldest competitor ever to finish the IRONMAN World Championships, completing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run in 16 hours 53 minutes and 50 seconds, less than seven minutes before the cutoff time.

12. Triathlon and Para-Triathlon competition at Birmingham 2022 will take place at Sutton Park, a 2,400 acre National Nature Reserve located 6 miles north of the city centre.

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