The inaugural Olympic Mixed Relay Triathlon provided thrilling racing with Team Great Britain taking Gold ahead of Team USA and Team France.
With a 300m swim, 6.8km bike and 2km run tackled in woman-man-woman-man order, the first-ever Olympic Mixed Relay Triathlon was a fast and furious event that saw Team Great Britain come out on top thanks to four flawless performances. Meanwhile a strong Team USA claimed Silver and Team France managed to overcome an early deficit to claim Bronze.
How It Happened
The race got underway in typical fashion with Team Great Britain’s Jess Learmonth using her weapon swim to surge to the front of the group in the water. Stringing out the field, Learmonth left the water first with Team USA’s Katie Zaferes, Team Netherlands’ Maya Kingma, and Team Germany’s Laura Lindemann for company.
Learmonth and Zaferes pushed hard throughout the bike, building an advantage of 26 seconds to the rest of the teams. Once on the run, Zaferes set the hottest pace with Learmonth refusing to give ground. As the 2km sprint neared its end, the American pulled ahead while Lindemann and Kingma also closed the gap to Learmonth. Behind, Team France’s Leonie Periault was the quickest mover, moving up into fifth.
Zaferes tagged in sixth-place men’s individual finisher Kevin McDowell, while Learmonth passed the race on to Jonny Brownlee, Lindemann to Jonas Schomburg and Maya Kingma to Marco Van Der Stel. A strong swim from the leading quartet increased their advantage to Italy, France and Belgium to 36 seconds.
All four riders stayed together on the bike, but Belgium’s Marten Van Riel and France’s Dorian Coninx were ferocious in their chase and managed to slim the deficit to 26 seconds. Once on the run, Brownlee dropped the hammer to distance the others and deliver a nine-second lead to Georgia Taylor-Brown.
In the water, women’s Silver medallist Taylor-Brown put in a fast swim to create a lead of 23 seconds to Team USA’s Taylor Knibb. Meanwhile, Cassandre Beaugrand had a superb swim to move France up to third. Knibb chased Taylor-Brown hard with Beaugrand unable to stick the American’s wheel.
Team GB’s lead was down to 11 seconds by the start of the run with another 27 seconds to Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Taylor-Brown’s sensational run pace edged the advantage to the USA back to 21 seconds. Taylor-Brown passed the race on to fellow individual race Silver medallist Alex Yee, who began his anchor leg ahead of Morgan Pearson. Cassandre Beaugrand put Team France into medal contention with a blistering run, Vincent Luis just 12 seconds behind Pearson – a gap he closed by the end of the swim.
The podium contenders set as GB, USA and France, Yee got onto the bike with a 17-second advantage but Luis smashed it out of transition, clearly determined to hunt down the front of the race. The Frenchman dropped Pearson with a savage attack then whittled the Briton’s buffer down to nothing by the end of the first bike lap. Luis tried to go straight past Yee but the younger athlete held on gamely, not allowing the gap to grow.
As the two neared the end of the bike, a decisive moment came when Yee overtook Luis on the final corner to position himself perfectly for the final transition. Yee made those five metres count with a smooth transition and a sprint out of T2 to immediacy make ground on the Frenchman. By the end of the first lap, Yee had 11 seconds in hand while Pearson overtook Luis to put USA in second.
From there, Team GB had the win sewn up, Yee out in front while Pearson and Luis had to move through the traffic of lapped athletes. Crossing the finish to be embraced by the rest of the squad, Team GB claimed the first-ever Olympic Gold for the Mixed Relay.
Pearson came home to claim Silver for Team USA 14 seconds later, while Luis was comfortably third for Team France another nine seconds back.