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5 Things to know about the Mixed Team Relay

New event makes Olympic debut in Tokyo

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

Tomorrow morning Team Canada will be competing in Lisbon, Portugal in the final qualifying event for the Mixed Team Relay at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. Here are some fun facts about the event:

Olympic debut:

The International Olympic Committee announced Friday, June 9th, 2017  that the event would be one of several new events added to the Games in Tokyo. Other new events added for these games are: basketball 3×3, archery mixed team event, 4×400 mixed relays in athletics, BMX freestyle park, madison in cycling, team events in fencing, mixed team event in judo, mixed doubles in table tennis and the 4 x 100 m medley mixed relay in swimming.

This news was huge for the sport of triathlon because it gives athletes another chance to earn an Olympic medal. The event includes teams of four — two men and two women — who each complete a short-course triathlon (300m swim, 8km bike, 2km run) before tagging off to their teammate to take over. With its fast and unpredictable format, it’s a fun event for the athletes and it is one of the most spectator-friendly formats of the sport.

Watch the World Triathlon Mixed Team Relay Qualifying Event live on TriathlonLive.tv

Competitors order:

The race alternates women/ men with the women starting the first leg and the men competing in the final leg.

Matthew Sharpe dives in to start the second leg at the Mixed Team Relay World Championship in Hamburg in 2018.

Exciting dives:

Since the second, third and fourth competitors all hit the water with a running start, one of the most spectacular parts of the race are the dives into the water. The swim start in Hamburg, which has been the site for the Mixed Team Relay World Championships since 2013, features a long run down a ramp that sets the athletes up for a spectacular dive into the water to begin the 300 m swim.


Like relays in swimming and track and field, strategy is critical in the Mixed Team Relay. Because drafting is allowed on the bike, the opening swim leg of the race is critical – if the first swimmer loses the group, that can set the tone for the rest of the race. The second athlete on the team, if he’s a strong swimmer, can sometimes make up the gap in time to join the group on the bike, so that swim leg can also be a critical component. Often you’ll see the third leg of the race be a critical stage as strong cyclists try to break up the group. The anchor leg of the race often comes down to a running sprint for the finish line, so having a strong runner to round out your race is critical.

France wins the 2020 Mixed Team Relay World Championships. Photo: World Triathlon

Teams to watch

We won’t see many of the top teams over the last few years tomorrow as the race in Lisbon is a qualifier for teams that have not already earned their spots in Tokyo. France will likely arrive in Tokyo as the team to beat – last September they won their third straight Mixed Relay World Title. The depth of triathlon talent in the US and Great Britain, though, makes those teams regulars at the front of the world championships. Australia won a dramatic world title in 2017 thanks to an amazing final sprint by Jake Birtwhistle, too. Norway, who will be racing tomorrow, made their Mixed Team Relay debut last year and finished an impressive fourth at the worlds. The Canadian team traditionally has been in the mix at World Triathlon relay races, but will be in for a tough go tomorrow with many of its Olympic contenders not on the start list.