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Olympic Triathlon in Tokyo: Dates, Times, Leaders, Distances and How to Watch on TV

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The world’s finest short-course superstars take centre stage Odaiba Marine Park, Tokyo in search of Olympic Triathlon glory. The venue for the race, situated on the North shore of Tokyo Bay and within sight of the beautiful Rainbow Bridge, hosts three races – individual events for men and women as well as the newly-introduced Mixed Relay.


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Photo: © Tokyo 2020 / The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games


First introduced at the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, the individual triathlon pits 55 of the world’s best men and women over a 51,5 km course ⇒ 1500 m swim + 40 km bike + 10 km run.

With the global pandemic delaying the 2020 Games for 12 months until 2021, triathletes from across the globe have had to adjust their training schedules to accommodate the pinnacle of the sporting summer.

There’ll be a new Olympic Champion on the men’s side as two-time winner Alistair Brownlee failed to qualify for this summer’s Games – the Brit took gold at London 2012 before repeating the feat in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

In the women’s event Swiss triathletes have enjoyed success in the event with Brigitte McMahon winning the inaugural even in Sydney 2000 before compatriot Nicola Spirig repeated the feat 12 years later in London – she also took silver in Rio.


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What Time does the Olympic Triathlon start in Tokyo?

The Men’s Race opens the action on Monday July 26, 2021 with the athletes beginning the swim at 06:30 local time.

The Women’s Race has an identical start time on Tuesday July 27, 2021 – at 06:30 local time.

The new Mixed Relay format takes place on Saturday 31 July at 07:30 local time.


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How can I watch the Olympic Triathlon on TV and Live Stream?

The BBC is the UK’s Olympic broadcaster and will host coverage of all three triathlon events, with the events available on the red button and online through the BBC Sport website.

Likewise, NBC Sports, and its network of channels, is the home of the Olympic Games in the United States and will host coverage of the three triathlon events on its platform. Events will also be broadcast on its Peacock streaming platform, which will debut a Tokyo NOW channel.

Seven West Media owns the rights to Australian coverage of the Olympics and will broadcast events on free-to-air and subscription channels. The company will also provide online coverage of the events through its streaming service.


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Olympic Triathlon distance in Tokyo


Olympic Distance in Triathlon (51,5 km full course) ⇒ 1500 m swim + 40 km bike + 10 km run.


The race will begin in the waters of Tokyo Bay, starting and finishing in Odaiba Marine Park – a beach resort overlooked by the city centre skyline.

Athletes will begin the race with a 1 km swim loop along the shoreline, they will then complete a further 500 meters loop before entering the first transition area which is situated on the shoreline.


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Triathletes will mount their bikes at the start of on an eight-laps cycling race ⇒ each 5 km loop which winds its way through the Odaiba Marine Park – including multiple trips through the West Prominade district of Odaiba, which features waterfalls and a number of other sights.

There is very little elevation change on the bike course with it being situated close to the shoreline. An 8-metre climb just after the 2 km point is the only incline of note on the entire course, with a similar drop in elevation recorded soon after the 3 km point.

The triathletes will then return to the transition area on the shore of Tokyo Bay before embarking on a 2,5 km, four-lap running course – and much like the bike course, there is little-to-no elevation change for the athletes.

The final sprint will take place along the shore of Tokyo Bay under the shadow of the glorious Rainbow Bridge, which dominates the skyline in Tokyo Bay.

The Mixed Relay sees four competitors from each nation – two men and two women – take on a 300 m swim, 8 km bike and 2 km run to crown the inaugural Olympic Champion in the new format.


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Photo: British Triathlon


Who is ready to win in Tokyo Olympics?

On the women’s side the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma will be eager to impress after two stunning displays in 2021 to date. Kingma finished third in the WTCS event in Yokohama before taking victory at WTCS Leeds in early June and is now certainly a leading contender for the gold.

Flora Duffy was world champion in 2016 and 2017 and the Bermudian would ensure legendary status in her home nation if she brings back a gold medal from Tokyo. She is sure to be a big challenger.

The USA duo of Taylor Knibb and Summer Rappaport both beat Kingma in Yokohama, showing their undoubted qualities and their ability to adapt to the Japanese climate.


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Photo: © Team USA / Getty Images


Rio bronze medalist Vicky Holland of Great Britain also makes the start line with the undoubted ambition of upgrading her bronze to gold. Jess Learmonth and Georgia Taylor-Brown will also be strong British contenders.

With two-time Olympic medalist Nicola Spirig winning the World Triathlon Cup event in Lisbon in May, it is a fascinating race for gold in 2021.

Europe’s finest look set to contest the men’s individual event with a number of high-profile names in contention at the front of the field.

Frenchman Vincent Luis (world champion in 2019 and 2020) will likely start favourite for gold in the Japanese capital.

ITU World №1 Mario Mola represents Spain and has enjoyed two World Triathlon Cup top-10 finishes in the early part of 2021.


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Photo: © ITU Media / Janos M Schmidt


Another silver medalist who will be eager to upgrade in Tokyo is Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee. The brother of two-time gold medalist Alistair took second in Rio 2016 ahead of South African Henri Schoeman, who will likely contend in Japan as well. Brownlee will be joined on the start line by another live British challenger in Alex Yee.

2020 PTO Championships winner Gustav Iden will be another man to watch – as will Norwegian compatriot Kristian Blummenfelt, who took victory at the WTCS event in Yokohama in May.


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Photo: © World Triathlon


Olympic Triathlon History: past Winners

The Olympic Triathlon is making its sixth appearance on the biggest stage of all, with Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee the only multi-time gold medalist.

The mighty Jan Frodeno also has a gold medal to his name, and the German has since gone on to dominate over longer distances in recent years.

On the women’s side, Nicola Spirig is the most decorated female athlete with a London 2012 gold coupled with a silver medal in Rio 2016.


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Olympic Triathlon Champions – Women

Sydney 2000 – Brigette McMahon (SUI)
Athens 2004 – Kate Allen (AUT)
Beijing 2008 – Emma Snowsill (AUS)
London 2012 – Nicola Spirig (SUI)
Rio de Janeiro 2016 – Gwen Jorgensen (USA)


Olympic Triathlon Champions – Men

Sydney 2000 – Simon Whitfield (CAN)
Athens 2004 – Hamish Carter (NZ)
Beijing 2008 – Jan Frodeno (GER)
London 2012 – Alistair Brownlee (GBR)
Rio de Janeiro 2016 – Alistair Brownlee (GBR)


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