One of the most exciting events of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be the triathlon mixed relay, which will take place on 31 July 2021. In this race, ten teams of two men and two women will compete against one another.
The race itself will be over in under 90 minutes. Combat is frenetic, strategic, and physically draining.
What Exactly is a Mixed Relay Triathlon?
Athletes will swim 300 metres, bike 6.8 kilometres, and run 2 kilometres before passing the relay to their teammate by touching their hand. Each participant’s effort typically lasts around 20 minutes, bringing the entire time of a race to less than 90 minutes.
“I think it’s terrific that men and women get to race together, and it’s excellent for spectators because it’s quick and furious,” said the older of Britain’s Brownlee brothers.
Léonie Périault, a Frenchwoman who won the world championship in 2018 and will do it again in 2020, told Tokyo 2020 that there is a particular kind of pressure involved in competing in the event.
“There’s a great sense of camaraderie among the players. In the mixed relay, I experience a great deal of adrenaline. If we’re on our own, we don’t have it. I’m not in this to win it for myself; I’m pushing myself to the limit for the sake of my teammates.”
Just the thought of failing and bringing the squad down with us gives us a rush.
Although the world championships for triathlon had separate relay events for male and female participants from 2003 to 2007, the popularity of the 4×4 mixed event has allowed it to become the only relay event now featuring on the international athletic calendar.
When did Triathlon Relay Teams Consist of Both Sexes?
The first World Championships were held in 2009, making this sport both novel and rapidly gaining in popularity. After waiting a year, the sport was introduced at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.
Hamburg hosted the event for the first time in 2014, and it was deemed a great success. Since then, the event has repeatedly taken place in the German metropolis. Over 250,000 people crowded the streets to watch in 2016.
It will first be featured at the Summer Olympic Games at Tokyo 2020.
How has the Sport of Triathlon’s Relay Format Evolved Recently?
The triathlon mixed relay will encourage “harmony between male and female athletes,” according to Iaki Arenal, head coach of the Spanish triathlon mixed relay team, who spoke to Tokyo 2020 about the event.
This goes beyond helping bring equality to the most gender-balanced Games in history. To paraphrase, “various tactics owing to the vast diversity the competition has over its phases, and above all, it is a very spectacular event since it is incredibly fast,” he remarked of the competition.
In light of the novel tactics that will need to be employed, training regimens have been adjusted accordingly. As a result, Arenal considers it at the Spanish national team’s training camp.
It goes without saying that strength and speed are important for success in mixed relay, which is why he advocated for a shift in training focus towards increasing power rather than endurance.
Triathletes must develop their strength because the race is so much shorter than the Olympic Triathlon (which consists of a 1.5-kilometer swim, a 40-kilometer bike ride, and a 10-kilometer run).
It’s a chance for the athletes to redeem themselves and try again for a medal if they didn’t get it the first time around. Brownlee said, “Back then, you only got one shot at it, and if you blew it, that was it.”
For the athletes to “give everything they’ve got,” as Arenal put it, strategy is crucial. Although if the sequence of the athletes is set in stone (men, women, men, women), the choice of who will actually occupy those positions is of the utmost importance.
“We never know the composition, nor the order of the athlete much before the race,” Périault stated. “Indeed, there have been significant shifts in this particular order. Every time, we meet together, every athlete has a chance to voice his view, and the order is established by consensus.”
Who Will We Be Watching at the Tokyo 2020 Mixed Relay Triathlon?
France has dominated the mixed relay event for some years. In 2020, at the world championships in Hamburg, they won their third straight world title and their fourth in the last six years.
After having won the Olympic test event in 2019, they are widely considered to be among the favourites for the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021. Périault thinks Team France is so successful because of how well they work together and have similar values.
There are no vulnerabilities in our team, she said. “Even though we have a frequently-rotating roster, we consistently deliver results. Our group is quite consistent. Another one of our strengths as a team is the familiarity we all share.
It’s a pleasant atmosphere here, and everyone is on the same page.” With Ali Brownlee and his brother Jonny, who has won silver and bronze in the Olympics, Great Britain has a good shot at a medal.
A bronze medal at the 2020 World Championships wasn’t enough for Team GB, but Alistair has his sights set on winning both the mixed and individual events. “I’d want to achieve two gold medals for Great Britain,” he remarked.
United States of America will also be a strong contender, having been second in 2017 and 2020 and third in 2018. The last stretch should be exciting and tense.