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Previewing the London Olympic Men’s Triathlon

Simon Whitfield, Kyle Jones, and Brent McMahon go for gold Tuesday morning.

In the men’s triathlon competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games, there appears to be a few heavy favorites in the men’s race, with the pair of British phenoms Alistair Brownlee and Jonathan Brownlee headlining the show in their own country. However, if there is anything the Olympics has proven in the sport of triathlon, it’s to expect the unexpected. Despite their track record, if history plays a part in the race at Hyde Park, we may see surprise strong runners overtake 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.

SCHEDULE:
Men’s Competition – Tuesday – 11:30am (UTC/GMT + 1) Time in your area

WEBSITE:
triathlon.org/olympics
london2012.com

START LISTS:
Men’s start list

* Canada will be represented by Simon Whitfield, Kyle Jones, and Brent McMahon.

* CTV Preview

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
A family affair
The Brownlee brothers, Alistair Brownlee and Jonathan Brownlee, have stood on six elite men’s podiums together. Two of them were series podiums in 2011, Madrid (Alistair gold, Jonathan silver), London (Alistair gold, Jonathan bronze), the 2011 Sprint Triathlon World Championships (Jonathan gold, Alistair bronze) and the Beijing Grand Final (Alistair gold, Jonathan bronze) followed by Kitzbuehel in 2012 (Alistair gold, Jonathan silver). They also went 1-2 at the 2011 ETU European Triathlon Championships, Alistair gold and Jonathan silver. Both were also a member of the gold medal winning Great Britain team at the 2011 Mixed Relay World Championships.

The Contenders
While the Brownlee brothers are strong favourites, they will face-off with some intense competition. Amongst the competition is two-time world champion Javier Gomez, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Sven Riederer, strong runners Laurent Vidal Steffen Justus, and Richard Murray, as well as a strong Russian team made up of Alexander Bryukhankov, Dmitry Polyanskiy, and Ivan Vasiliev. Veteran Olympic medallists Simon Whitfield, Bevan Docherty and Jan Frodeno also bring a wealth of experience to the race that could prove dangerous to other contenders.

A swift swim
Similar to the women’s race, while gold may be decided on the run, it could also be lost in the swim. The day starts in The Serpentine, where the athletes will dive in from a pontoon for a 1.5km loop. With many of the medal favorites being strong swimmers, including the Brownlees, Richard Varga, Javier Gomez, and Russians Alexander Bryukhankov and Ivan Vasiliev, expect the swim to be quick and merciless.

New NOCs
Two NOCs are making their debut in the men’s triathlon in London 2012. The first being Korea when Min Ho Heo qualified, and the other in Monaco’s Herve Banti. Both are alumni of the ITU Development programme.

The medal count
Great Britain has never won an Olympic triathlon medal, but the Brownlee brothers and Stuart Hayes could breakthrough for a first for Team GB on Saturday. Alistair won last year’s London test event, and is also the reigning ITU World Champion. Meanwhile, London marks the deepest field of Olympic medallist veterans returning to compete in an Olympics. Four men, including Simon Whitfield (CAN), Jan Frodeno (GER), Bevon Docherty (NZL) and Sven Riederer (SUI) have each won Olympic hardware.

Changing history
Test event winners who have gone on to win gold. In the previous three Olympic test events for Sydney, Athens and Beijing – the winner of the test event has never won the Olympic gold. However, it has been a good indicator in who could medal. At the past two Olympic Games – the bronze medallist from the men’s test event has gone on to win bronze in the Olympic race. Sven Riederer (SUI) in Athens and Bevan Docherty (NZL) in Beijing.

Men’s Competition Quick Facts
ITU World Champions: Alistair Brownlee (GBR) (2011 &2009), Javier GomezĀ  (ESP) (2008 & 2010), Bevan Docherty (NZL) (2004)
Previous Olympic medallists: Simon Whitfield (CAN) – Gold, Sydney 2000, Silver, Beijing 2008
Jan Frodeno (GER) – Gold, Beijing 2008
Bevan Docherty (NZL) – Silver, Athens 2004, Bronze, Beijing 2008
Sven Riederer (SUI) – Bronze, Athens 2004
Four-time Olympians: Simon Whitfield (CAN), Hunter Kemper (USA)
NOCs competing in first Olympic Games: Korea – Min Ho Heo, Monaco – Herve Banti
Oldest Athlete: Simon Whitfield (CAN) – 37 years, 2 months and 23 days
Youngest Athlete: Davide Uccellari (ITA) – 20 years, 9 months and 28 days


PAST MEDALLISTS IN THE MEN’S TRIATHLON AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
Gold – Simon Whitfield (CAN)
Silver – Stefan Vuckovic (GER)
Bronze – Jan Rehula (CZE)

Athens 2004 Olympic Games
Gold – Hamish Carter (NZL)
Silver – Bevan Docherty (NZL)
Bronze – Sven Riederer(SUI)

Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
Gold – Jan Frodeno (GER)
Silver – Simon Whitfield (CAN)
Bronze – Bevan Docherty (NZL)