The addition of the mixed team relay to the Olympic program was undoubtedly a huge success, with fans around the world getting introduced to the fun and exciting race format that sees two men and two women compete in a super-sprint traithlon. Great Britain took the gold medal at the event, giving Jonathan Brownlee one of each color medal after his bronze-medal finish in 2012 and silver-medal performance in 2016. Brownlee’s second leg in the race set the stage for the British victory, which was solidified thanks to an outstanding leg by Alex Yee.
“I am incredibly proud just hearing Alex say that I inspired him in some ways, that means a lot,” Brownlee said after the race. “He’s an incredible athlete. These guys are incredible athletes and part of our role is to inspire people to do sport. It doesn’t have to be triathlon – just aim to do something, whatever that is. That is what is great about the Olympics, there are lots of great events for people to enjoy and one of them is triathlon and hopefully everyone at home enjoyed watching it.”
For American Kevin McDowell the silver medal rounds out an amazing week for the cancer survivor. “I am at a loss for words with this team,” he said after the race. “To be honest, these three individuals (Katie Zaferes, Taylor Knibb and Morgan Pearson) have played a big role in where I am at today and all believed in me at different times. It was extra special to share it with them and I probably could have walked away from the sport much earlier, but they have instilled so much belief in me and for a lot of the things I have overcome.”
For McDowell’s teammate Katie Zaferes, the mixed team relay meant a second medal after her bronze-medal performance in the individual event. Zaferes and McDowell were the last two to be named to the American team, and their results proved the USA Triathlon selection committee were on their game. “I just think it’s so amazing for our sport and to be able to show so many other people because we all love it and we know how special it feels compared to the individual when you’re racing for yourself, which is cool in one way but also to be able to race as a team and country,” Zaferes said. “It was at a good time in the United States so I’m happy many people were able to see it and that as Team USA we showed what we can do. To have four athletes show up on the same day and perform is really awesome and to be both male and female, I just think it’s an incredible event. It’s such a special event and I am glad that everybody knows about it now.”
Going into the race France was considered the favorite, having won the last three world championships. A great leg by Cassandre Beaugrand put France back into the medal hunt, then an inspired leg by two-time defending world champion Vincent Luis created the exciting finish for the race. Luis made up a large deficit to move to the lead of the race as the men started the second loop of the bike.
“My race was pretty special, Alex is someone I really appreciate and when he dives in front of you with thirty-five seconds, it’s basically you have to empty the tank in fifteen minutes when you have a twenty minutes race,” Luis said. “I will let you imagine what were my last five minutes; not nice. That was a great race. Morgan and Alex are two really true racers. Alex and I have a little story. Back in 2012, my first Olympics, I got asked by a friend if I had an Olympic gift to give to a young guy starting triathlon and I learned that it was Alex. This guy is the new man and you need to count on him. I also want to thank Jonny Brownlee for everything he has done for triathlon, that was amazing and I am really proud of my team. I hope I see you in all in three years.”