With the Olympics just around the corner, we look back at previous editions of the race. The triathlon has been on the Olympic calendar since 2000 and so this coming week in Tokyo will be the sixth edition. Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro: these are all the champions and podium finishers!
The Olympic triathlon got its start in Sydney 21 years ago. It was Canadian Simon Whitfield who claimed the first Olympic triathlon gold in front of the Operah House: he won the race in 1:48:24. Thirteen seconds after Whitfield it was German Stefan Vuckovic who came in second, and another eight seconds behind Vuckovic it was Czech Jan Rehula who crossed the line in third.
In the women’s race, it was Switzerland’s Brigitte McMahon who took the gold medal at the Olympic debut. It took her 2:00:39 to complete her golden race, two seconds less than Australian runner-up Michellie Jones. Switzerland’s Magali Di Marco Messmer took the bronze.
When the Olympic circus had traveled to Athens in 2004, it was New Zealand’s Harmish Carter who took the race in a finishing time of 1:51:06, ahead of his compatriot Bevan Dochterty (1:51:14) and Switzerland’s Sven Riederer (1:51:32).
Austria’s Kate Allen proved inimitable. With her finishing time of 2:04:43 she was seven seconds faster than Australia’s Loretta Harrop and 25 seconds faster than Susan Williams, the American athlete who won bronze.
In 2008, German Jan Frodeno made himself immortal by claiming Olympic gold. With a time of 1:48:52, he proved to be the strongest athlete. Canadian Simon Whitfield, the gold medalist in 2000, took the silver medal this time. Behind him it was New Zealand’s Bevan Dochterty who claimed bronze.
Frodeno’s wife, Emma Snowsill, also won gold in Beijing. The Australian athlete won the race in 1:58:26, almost a minute faster than Portuguese runner-up Vanessa Fernandes. Australia’s Emma Moffatt rounded out the Australian party with a bronze medal.
Starting in 2012 the Brownlee era was upon us: Alistair won the Olympic gold in front of his home crowd after a race that took him 1:46:25. Spain’s Javier Gomez Noya took the silver eleven seconds later and brother Jonathan Brownlee claimed the bronze medal.
Nicola Spirig – competing in her fifth Olympics in Tokyo this year – won Olympic gold by beating Lisa Nordén in a thrilling final sprint. The Swiss and Swedish athletes fought until the last meter in a thrilling photo finish. It took a while to decide that Spirig was the Olympic champion. Australia’s Erin Densham won the bronze.
2016, Rio de Janeiro
Alistair Brownlee again showed he was the best athlete, becoming the first triathlete to claim Olympic gold twice. His brother Jonathan moved up one place from four years earlier and took home the Olympic silver. South African Henri Schoeman happily crossed the line in third place.
American Gwen Jorgensen provided the first American triathlon gold at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Nicola Spirig, the 2012 champion, came in second and Britain’s Vicky Holland took third.