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A look at the Rio 2016 triathletes: Interesting facts and where they’re from

Rio de Janeiro

We’re just weeks away from the Olympic triathlon taking place on Copacabana Beach in Rio. The triathlon world is getting ready for big performances from medal favourites such as Spain’s Mario Mola, USA’s Gwen Jorgensen and Britain’s Brownlee brothers, but did you know there are athletes from a total of 40 different National Olympic Committees coming to race on August 18th and 20th? Smaller countries such as Mauritius, Azerbaijan, Jordan and Israel have each earned spots in the Rio triathlon, some for the first time ever.

Here are some interesting facts about the triathletes attending this year’s Olympic Games as well as an interactive map showing where they all come from.

  • Barbados’ first ever triathlete to head to the Olympics trains in Canada. This is also Barbados’ first time sending a triathlete to the Olympics. Jason Wilson just missed out on qualifying for London 2012 but the 26-year-old Bajan, who is currently 77th on the WTS rankings, is headed to Rio next month after some strong finishes including fifth at last year’s Pan Am Games. Wilson has a Canadian connection — he trains in Guelph, Ontario under coach Craig Taylor at Triathlon Canada’s Regional Triathlon Centre.
Jason Wilson with training partner, Canada's Alexander Hinton.
Jason Wilson with training partner, Canada’s Alexander Hinton.
  • This is Jordan and Israel’s first time sending a triathlete to compete at the Olympics. For two Middle Eastern countries, this is the first time they’ll send triathletes to the Olympics as the sport continues to grow across the continent. Jordan’s Lawrence Fanous, who trains in Britain, narrowly missed the London 2012 Games due to injuries but is ready for Rio as the first Jordanian Olympic triathlete. Ron Darmon is Israel’s first triathlete to ever qualify for an Olympics. The 23-year-old is currently 55th on the WTS overall rankings and has one win and several top eight finishes to his name in 2016 so far at world cup events.
Israel's Ron Darmon
Israel’s Ron Darmon
  • Great Britain has the most medal potential between their men and women, but Spain’s men and USA’s women are all podium contenders. Even though Spain’s top male triathlete, London 2012 silver medallist Javier Gomez, announced he’s out of the Olympics after an unfortunate bike crash, the country still has a stacked men’s team. Mario Mola, currently the world no. 1, poses a serious threat to the Brownlee brothers who are back to defend their London 2012 podium finishes. Mola’s countryman Fernando Alarza sits just behind him on the WTS rankings in second overall — it’s likely we’ll see an exciting race to the finish line between these four men. On the women’s side, Gwen Jorgensen has been the long-time favourite for gold after a historic WTS winning streak broken only by a second place to Britain’s Helen Jenkins. Each of Britain’s three female athletes have WTS wins under their belt, but now so do USA’s after Katie Zaferes recently won her first title at WTS Hamburg.
Photo by ITU/triathlon.org
Photo by ITU/triathlon.org
  • Japan’s four triathletes have the longest trip of any athletes heading to Rio. Japan has four triathletes heading to Rio, including current world no. 4, Ai Ueda. Tokyo is the furthest major city from Rio, with a nearly 24 hour flight time — these athletes have a long way to go for a roughly two-hour event.

Here’s an interactive map showing where each of the 55 Rio-bound male and female triathletes are from.