Last week, following ITU President Marisol Casado publicly stating her preference for a move to short course triathlon at the 2020 Olympics, I, along with several others, argued why this would be a big backward step for the sport.
In turn some have reasonably asked – what are the alternatives for making the sport fairer and more entertaining for global media?
There are many, and I have long advocated for select races to return to Enduro formats that would create genuinely fair competition for all round swim, bike and run athletes:
Championship events with heats and finals: 3 heats of 30 athletes with the top 10 athletes in each heat progressing to the final.
The final to be raced as a 500m swim x 13.3km bike x 3.3km run repeated three times.
The above is also in my opinion the most exciting format possible for viewing triathlon.
Another is for triathlon to consider a format already tried and tested with great success at International and Olympic competition.
Time Trial Triathlon
The Olympic Championship should be about deciding the best triathlete in the world with absolutely no discussion or debate. This could be done while also satisfying the push for the shorter and more entertaining format to suit ITU officials and TV Coverage.
- 750m swim
- 20km bike
- 5km run
Raced as a Time Trial seeded by World Cup rankings. One athlete leaves every one or two minutes apart as in cycling.
Simple and very effective!
But that wouldn’t be more entertaining!
Are you kidding me?
At present even the most passionate triathlon fan falls to sleep waiting for the run to start. The time trial format would keep every fan engaged not just for one discipline but for every minute of the race as they follow who is making up time and who is losing it. With supporters holding their breath as each competitor crosses the finish line to determine the overall standings.
The biggest audiences for television in the Tour de France are always the Time Trial.
If the ITU are looking for innovative ways to energise the sport – let’s hear a coherent objection as to why this is not considered an option. According to comments of President Casado, athletes and the sport’s stakeholders will be consulted before any major decision is made. While this is of course not true (the current athletes oppose the move to short course), I believe the above suggestion is just one of the options that should be debated within the ITU if they are genuinely trying to make improvements.
Wouldn’t it be great if our Olympic gold medal took the sport back to where it was always intended by our pioneers? The best athlete over multiple disciplines.
Madame President cement your legacy not by shortening an existing format that you believe is flawed, but by making the Olympics the one race every triathlon fan wants to see. There would be no need for a massive overhaul of the current WTS system and the triathlon Olympic final could be a phenomenon that helps move our sport into the new era.
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