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Olympic preview: Triathletes begin to arrive in Rio for Thursday and Saturday’s races

We’re mere days away from Rio’s triathlon events and the world’s top short course triathletes are beginning to arrive in Brazil ahead of the big days. For our five Canadians, Kirsten Sweetland and Andrew Yorke are making the trip from their current home training bases in Canada and Tyler Mislawchuk, Amelie Kretz and Sarah-Anne Brault are coming all the way from Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain, their summer training base with coach Jamie Turner.

Tyler Mislawchuk is the youngest man on the Rio triathlon start line at just 21 years old. He turns 22 the day after his Olympic debut race.

Two-time world champion Gwen Jorgensen is the woman most people expect to see on top of the podium on Saturday. The current world number 3 has an unprecedented number of WTS wins to her name and has risen to the top of her game since working with coach Jamie Turner. Jorgensen is on her way to Rio from Vitoria-Gasteiz as well.

One of the strongest men’s teams is Spain with current world no. 1 Mario Mola and his talented compatriot Fernando Alarza. Though world champion and London 2012 silver medallist Javier Gomez, arguably the team’s strongest member, won’t be competing in Rio due to a broken arm, the Spanish men could find themselves on the podium after Thursday’s race.

As some of the first triathletes to get to the Olympic village, the Spanish team gave a press conference and talked about their expectations heading into Thursday and Saturday’s races.

“These last weeks went really well, I finished training in high altitude and then I did some training at sea level to be ready for Rio,” Mola said. “Now it’s time to see if all the training was really perfect. I have to give everything I have and fight for those medals.

“Javi is not here, and that’s a pity. But we keep on working the same. Javi is so good, so brilliant, that he made us think that what he does is easy and we actually believed it, so we are doing it. We’ll try to do the best we can and then the race will decide.”

“This is Olympics, and everyone is here to win a medal. We are 55 on the start line and we all really want to be on the podium. This is a one-day race and there were surprises in other Olympic races. We all know who the favorites are, but there sure can be surprises. The top elite triathletes will be closely watched during the race, and that could end up in ‘outsiders’ surprising all.”

Tune in to watch the men’s triathlon at 10 AM on Thursday and the women’s at 10 AM on Saturday. Read our guide to the Rio triathlon here prior to the event. CBC will be live-streaming the events at olympics.cbc.ca