The Curtain Rises on the Olympic Mixed Relay Triathlon

Teams consist of two men and two women who have qualified for the individual OIympic races. Each team member will be tackling a super-sprint triathlon format course of a 300-meter swim, 6.8-kilometer (two lap) bike and a 2-kilometer (two lap) run, always in the order of female-male-female-male.

The Odaiba Bay venue is largely the same course as the individual Olympic Triathlon, only more compact. The format is designed for maximum excitement with a great deal of back and forth as individuals who have wildly different strengths and weaknesses engage in see-saw in-race battles.

Thus competitors like Alex Yee and Georgia Taylor-Brown on the run, Jacob Birtwhistle and Nicola Spirig on the bike, and Jessica Learmonth and Vincent Luis on the swim will play significant roles in the cut and thrust of the contest.

A hint: watch the race live on television and gather all you can from frantic commentators and thrill with the final sprint for the medals. But DVR the race so you can fully appreciate and analyze the action.

The electric excitement of the sprint format should lure more fans of the sport. And, as the International Triathlon Union, now known as World Triathlon, has always been at the forefront of gender equality, this Mixed Relay format is a brilliant continuation of that premise.

While anything can happen in this pass the baton action, it says here that the Great Britain team and its four Olympians should be the favorites followed closely by France, New Zealand, Belgium, the U.S. and Australia.

There will be 17 teams competing taking the pontoon start. Sadly, South Africa had to scratch since Henri Schoeman suffered a stress fracture in his foot on Monday. For the remainder, the squads will be officially submitted on Thursday and final lineups confirmed two hours before the Saturday 7:30 am Tokyo time (Friday 6:30 pm EDT).

Unlike the individual Olympic Triathlons, the starters are drawn in order of world rankings.

Team France - the World Triathlon Mixed Relay Champions three years in a row - will wear number 1. Leonie Periault (5th) and Cassandre Beaugrand (DNF) will go out first and third just as they did in the team’s 2018 and 2020 title wins, while two of the three French male Olympians – Vincent Luis (13th at Tokyo) Leo Bergere (21st) or Dorian Coninx (17th) – will race legs two and four.

Second-ranked Team Australia, the only nation to qualify the maximum three men and three women for the individual Olympic races, will have to choose two each from Aaron Royle (26th at Tokyo), Jake Birtwhistle (16th), Matthew Hauser (24th) and Ashleigh Gentle (DNF, Jaz Hedgeland (DNF) and Emma Jeffcoat (26th). The team last won at Abu Dhabi in 2019 with Ashleigh Gentle on the opening leg and Emma Jeffcoat on leg three, and Jake Birtwhistle on leg four – and Leg 2 TBD.

Team USA will wear number 3 and last won a Mixed Relay team gold at Nottingham in 2018. Selectors will choose two women from Olympic bronze medalist Katie Zaferes, Summer Rappaport (14th) and Taylor Knibb (16th) for the first and third legs. Morgan Pearson will be motivated to have a great race after his disappointment (42nd in Tokyo) in the individual men’s race, while Kevin McDowell should be fired up after his sixth-place finish on July 25.

Team Great Britain will wear number 4 and should be listed as the favorite with four Olympic medalists to choose from squad members Alex Yee (2nd in Tokyo), Jonny Brownlee (5th) Georgia Taylor-Brown (2nd in Tokyo) ), Vicky Holland (13th) and Jessica Learmonth (9th). Brownlee was involved in all three of Great Britain’s World Mixed Relay winning teams od 2011, 2012 and 2014. While she lacks an Olympic medal, Learmonth’s significant contribution to Team GB’s opening leg in the Mixed Relay at the Tokyo Test Event in 2019 may sway selectors.

Team New Zealand will wear number 5 and won the Under23/Junior World Mixed Relay Championship in Lausanne in 2019. The Kiwi Team includes recent Olympic bronze medalist Hayden Wilde and Tayler Reid (18th) for the men and Nicole Van Der Kaay (29th) and Ainsley Thorpe (DNF).

Team Belgium aka The Belgium Hammers won bronze at the at the recent European Mixed Relay Championship and won the Mixed Relay Qualification event in Lisbon. Jelle Geens was sadly missing from the individual men’s Olympic race due to a positive Covid test, but will be raring to go July 30. Filling out the quartet will be Marten Van Riel (4th at Tokyo), Valerie Barthelemy (10th at Tokyo) and Clair Michel (34th), Should contend if Michel is over a calf injury.

Team Germany held a Mixed Relay qualification event over a super sprint format that saw Annabel Knoll (31st at Tokyo) and Justus Nieschlag (40th at Tokyo) confirmed with Laura Lindemann (8th) and Jonas Schomburg (38th) for the team.

Team Netherlands Left two men off the Olympic individual race start to leave them fresh for the Mixed Relay. Rachel Klamer finished a magnificent 4th at the individual women’s race and Maya Kingma took 11th so perhaps they can make up for their weak men.

Team Switzerland won the very first Mixed Relay Championship in 2009 and will rely on
two-time Olympic medalist Nicola Spirig (6th at Tokyo), Jolanda Annen (19th ) Max Studer (9th) Andrea Salvisberg (22nd).

Team Spain Sports Mario Mola (10th at Tokyo) and Fernando Alarza (12th) plus bMiriam Casillas Garcia (21st at Tokyo) and Anna Godoy Contreras (LAP),

Team Canada

Team Italy Will post up Verena Steinhauser (20th at Tokyo ) Angelica Olmo (DNF) Gianluca Pozzatti (37th at Tokyo) and Delian Stateff (39th).

Team Canadawill be represented by Tyler Mislawchuk (15th in Tokyo and Matthew Sharpe (49th) and Amelie Kretz (15th in Tokyo) and Joanna Brown (LAP).

Team Japan Will be led by Kenji Nener (14th in Tokyo) ) and Makoto Odakura (19th) and Niko Takahashi (18th in Tokyo) and Niina Kishimoto (DNF)

Team HungaryWill be led by Bence Bicsak (7th at Tokyo) and Tamas Toth (29th) together with Zsanett Bragmayer (12th in Tokyo) and Zsofia Kovacs (LAP)

Team Austria Lukas Hollaus (34th) and Alois Knabl (DNF) with Lisa Perterer (27th) and Julia Hauser (DNF)

Team ROCDmitry Polyanskiy (32nd) and Igor Polyanskiy (43rd) as well as Anastasia Gorbunova (DNF) and Alexandra Razarenova (LAP).

Team Mexico Crisanto Grajales (31st in Tokyo) Irving Perez (46th), Cecilia Perez (DNF), Claudia Rivas (DNF).