10th Anniversary of Triathlon in the Olympic Games

10th Anniversary of Triathlon in the Olympic Games

By Masa Takaya on 16/09/10 at 10:26 pm

Exactly one decade ago today, 50 of the best women triathletes in the world at the time dove into the waters of Farm Cove under the shadow of the Sydney Opera House, and began Triathlon`s era on the Olympic Programme.
Police records show that over 120,000 spectators lined the course, setting a new Olympic attendance record.

As it was also the dawn of a new millennium, NBC Vice President Peter Diamond was quoted as saying “The image of the women diving into Sydney Harbour would be very significant historically and would become a symbol of the new age to come.”

Michellie Jones (AUS), carried the entire nation with her, as she chased Australia`s first Olympic medal.  Jones, the heavy pre-race favourite, had won the test event just five months earlier.

As the women began the first Olympic triathlon in history, Sheila Taormina (USA) set the early pace in the swim, emerging from the water almost 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.  But the former swimmer couldn’t hold the lead through the entire bike leg and by the time the women headed onto the run course, Jones was out in front, much to the delight of the Australian faithful.

However, gold for the home team didn’t come as expected as Switzerland’s Brigitte McMahon sprinted down the home stretch in front of the Opera House and into history as triathlon’s first Olympic gold medalist.  Jones settled for silver, just two heartbreaking seconds behind McMahon.  Magali Messmer made it a banner day for Switzerland, taking the bronze.  Joanna Zeiger (USA) finished in fourth place while Loretta Harrop (AUS) rounded out the top five. Click here for full women’s results.

In the men’s event the following day, Australian hopes lay with Miles Stewart, and Peter Robertson, who, like Jones, also won the test event in April of the same year.  But it was another Aussie, Craig Walton, who had the locals cheering as he led the men out of the water.  Right on his heels were a pair of men many predicted would clash for gold, New Zealand’s Hamish Carter and Brit Simon Lessing. But it was another Simon who would come out of nowhere to pull off the second stunner in as many races.

Despite being down more than a minute off the bike due to a crash, Simon Whitfield (CAN) ripped apart the 10-kilometer run course and ran his way back into contention.  With 800 meters to go, he was still a solid 40 meters behind Stefan Vuckovic (GER).  Whitfield shifted into another gear and with a finishing kick that he would define his career, the Canadian leaped across the finish line to steal Olympic gold.  He posted the fastest run split of the day and was the only man to run under 31 minutes.  Vuckovic held on for the silver, the very medal he won at the Sydney ITU Triathlon World Cup, the test event in April.  Czech Jan Rehula came across for the bronze medal.  Dmitriy Gaag of Kazakhstan and Spaniard Ivan Rana finished fourth and fifth respectively. Click here for full men’s results.

Elite Men

1. Simon Whitfield CAN CA 01:48:24
2. Stefan Vuckovic GER DE 01:48:37
3. Jan Rehula CZE CZ 01:48:45
4. Dmitriy Gaag KAZ KZ 01:49:03
5. Ivan Raña Fuentes ESP ES 01:49:09
6. Miles Stewart AUS AU 01:49:13
7. Olivier Marceau SUI CH 01:49:18
8. Reto Hug SUI CH 01:49:21
9. Simon Lessing GBR GB 01:49:23
10. Tim Don GBR GB 01:49:28

Elite Women

1. Brigitte Mcmahon SUI CH 02:00:39
2. Michellie Jones AUS AU 02:00:41
3. Magali Di Marco SUI CH 02:01:07
4. Joanna Zeiger USA US 02:01:25
5. Loretta Harrop AUS AU 02:01:42
6. Sheila Taormina USA US 02:02:45
7. Isabelle Mouthon-Michellys FRA FR 02:02:51
8. Christine Hocq FRA FR 02:03:00
9. Nicole Hackett AUS AU 02:03:09
10. Nancy Kemp-Arendt LUX LU 02:03:14

Find more details about this event - 2000 Sydney Olympic Games