What does the future of triathlon at the Olympic Games look like?


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Faster, higher, stronger … and get it over with faster. For those who thought the 100m sprint final was quick entertainment, the introduction of speed climbing at the Tokyo Olympics made them look like pedestrians – the fastest athlete to storm the wall hit the wall in 5.45 seconds the button.

Research shows that the global audience Attention span is dwindling, and the International Olympic Committee is paying close attention because it takes millions to tune in to keep sponsorship money from going in the same direction.

How triathlon was received – in the best case two hours – by a mixed audience that was only involved in the Olympics and the diehard who would like to watch a live stream of the Ironman for 8 hours is closely watched.

The standard distance, currently the Olympic distance, was already unsteady. World Triathlon President Marisol Casado made it clear in 2016 that it would likely return to a sprint. There was a stay of execution for Tokyo, but traditionalists should be prepared for change on the way to Paris.

The irony is that it was the casual fan who marveled at the action in Tokyo and triathlon aficionados who’d be thought to be adamant about change that has struggled with the spectacle.

To the uninitiated 1,500 m swimming, 40 km cycling and 10 km running Herculean achievements are highlighted when the women mastered it wonderfully when a typhoon blew through, or over Kristian Blumenfelt spit the contents of its energy gels across the blue carpet. This is a lasting selling point for Tri at the games and a welcome contrast to explosive sports that are over in seconds.

The problem is the terrain, and as long as there are hills, as there were in Athens in 2004 and Rio in 2016, the races provide a compelling narrative

In contrast, for many who know triathlon better, a flat course in the city center, where a large pack of men came together in the men’s race and “rolled around” most of the 40 km, became a boring festival. The jury was divided, but it seems to be on the wall that the race distance is being cut to a sprint or even a jumbled shorter format.

Outside of the Olympics, World Triathlon events are heading in that direction, but if it did it would be a shame and the wrong answer to the right question.

The problem of neutralizing the leg needs to be addressed because triathlon should be a real test of all three disciplines, but it is not distance that is the problem. The mixed team relay was a successbut not just because of its length – it wasn’t much shorter than the men’s individual race.

The problem is the terrain, and as long as you have it hillas it is in. gave Athens in 2004 and Rio in 2016, the races deliver a compelling narrative. If the topography of the city center is not favorable, take the sport to a rural location for the Olympics. Finding the ideal venue may not be easy, but it is time. Paris has many other events that provide the backdrop to show off its considerable charm.

Illustration: Daniel Seex

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