The triathlon competition at the Olympic Games has produced its fair share of surprises in its first three appearances and it could again in London. While there are some notable favourites in London, like dual ITU world champions Helen Jenkins (GBR) and Emma Moffatt (AUS), multiple 2012 ITU World Triathlon Series race winners Erin Densham (AUS) and Nicola Spirig (SUI) and consistently brilliant Andrea Hewitt (NZL), the women’s field is interesting in just how many women could stand on top of the Olympic podium.
About the Triathlon event at the Olympic Games:
Triathlon was awarded full Olympic Games medal status by the IOC at its Congress in Paris in 1994, and made its debut in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. In Sydney, Simon Whitfield and Brigitte McMahon stamped their names into the history books as the first gold medallists. In Athens, it was Hamish Carter and Kate Allen’s golden turn before Emma Snowsill and Jan Frodeno won the gold in Beijing. Overall, Australia is on top of the Olympic medal tally with a total of four. As well as Snowsill’s gold Australian women have collected two silver medals and one bronze. New Zealand and Switzerland have three medals each, each with one gold, then Canada and Germany have two medals. Both of Canada’s medals belong to Whitfield. Austria, the Czech Republic and the USA currently have one medal each.
Women’s Competition – Saturday – 9am (UTC/GMT + 1) Find out the time in your area
*** Canada will be represented by Paula Findlay and Kathy Tremblay.
LIVE COVERAGE: Live text coverage will be available at triathlon.org/live and you can also follow via Twitter on @ITUonline and @triathlonlive
COURSE PROFILE: Hyde Park
Swim (1.5km) – One-lap, 1.5-kilometre swim in the Serpentine, with a pontoon start on the north side of the lake.
Bike (43km) – Seven-lap, 43-kilometre cycle leg that starts with transition on Serpentine Road, then down South Carriage Drive towards Hyde Park Corner. From there the loop takes in London icons like Constitution Hill and Buckingham Palace. The course is generally flat, with no climbs, but is technically demanding.
Run (10km) – Four-lap, 10-kilometre run on a flat but technical course with many tight corners, that runs along the side of the Serpentine.
STORIES TO WATCH FOR
Unlike Beijing 2008, the women’s field is wide open. While Helen Jenkins (GBR), Andrea Hewitt (NZL), Nicola Spirig (SUI) and Erin Densham (AUS) are considered the main favourites, the depth of the field is so strong that the medals could come from anywhere. Among the contenders are Emma Moffatt (AUS), Emma Jackson (AUS), Gwen Jorgensen (USA), Sarah Groff (USA), Laura Bennett (USA), Lisa Norden (SWE), Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI), Aileen Morrison (IRL), Anne Haug (GER), Anja Dittmer (GER), Rachel Klamer (NED), Ainhoa Murua (ESP), Jessica Harrison (FRA), Vicky Holland (GBR), Ai Ueda (JPN), Mariko Adachi (JPN) and Juri Ide (JPN).
With Lucy Hall (GBR) in the field and other renowned swimmers like Jenkins, Hewitt, Harrison, Densham and Oliveira (BRA) also on the start list, expect the swim pace to be fast as the leaders try and establish a break right from T1. Given the bike course is hard to get a breakaway, this will be the best chance to take an advantage heading into the run.
Three NOCs are making their debut in the women’s triathlon in London 2012, Slovenia (Mateja Simic), Ecuador (Elizabeth Bravo) and Mauritius (Fabienne St Louis). All three are alumni of the ITU Development programme. Slovenia’s Mateja Simic is also one of two mothers in the field, along with Russia’s Irina Abysova.
First triathlon medals
Great Britain has never won an Olympic triathlon medal, but Helen Jenkins, Vicky Holland or Lucy Hall could breakthrough for a first for Team GB on Saturday. Jenkins won last year’s London test event, and is also the reigning ITU World Champion. While New Zealand has been the most successful nation in the men’s competition, with three medals, it has yet to win one in the women’s event.
Australian women have always made the Olympic podium, with silver in Sydney and Athens and gold and bronze in Beijing. Erin Densham, who finished 22nd in Beijing, will lead the charge, alongside Beijing bronze medallist Moffatt and Emma Jackson, who finished fourth in last year’s London World Triathlon Series event.
The winner of the test event has never won gold in the Olympic Games, but it has proved a good indication of medallists. In Sydney, all three eventual medallists did podium in the test event, but in a different order, while in Beijing Vanessa Fernandes beat Emma Snowsill in the test event before Snowsill turned the tables in the 2008 Olympic Games.
Start Number 34 has so far been the luckiest number at the Olympics. Start numbers indicate not only transition position, but also have served as a talisman. Emma Snowsill won gold in Beijing in 2008, Susan Williams picked up bronze in Athens in 2004, and Magali Messmer also took bronze in Sydney in 2000, all while wearing No. 34. In London, Nicky Samuels of New Zealand has the number.
Women’s Competition Quick Facts
ITU World Champions: Helen Jenkins (GBR) (2008 & 2011), Emma Moffatt (AUS) (2009 & 2010)
Previous Olympic medallists: Emma Moffatt (AUS) – Bronze, Beijing 2008
Four-time Olympians: Anja Dittmer (GER)
NOCs competing in first Olympic Games: Ecuador – Elizabeth Bravo, Slovenia – Mateja Simic, Mauritius – Fabienne St Louis
Oldest Athlete: Laura Bennett (USA) – 37 years, 3 months and 11 days
Youngest Athlete: Lucy Hall (GBR) – 20 years, 5 months and 15 days
PAST MEDALLISTS IN THE WOMEN’S TRIATHLON AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
Gold – Brigitte McMahon (SUI)
Silver – Michellie Jones (AUS)
Bronze – Magali Messmer (SUI)
Athens 2004 Olympic Games
Gold – Kate Allen (AUT)
Silver – Loretta Harrop (AUS)
Bronze – Susan Williams (USA)
Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
Gold – Emma Snowsill (AUS)
Silver – Vanessa Fernandes (POR)
Bronze – Emma Moffatt (AUS)