Tokyo Olympics triathlon in review: A year of firsts

Posted at 12:29 AM, Aug 08, 2021

It was a Games of firsts in triathlon. Bermuda’s Flora Duffy won the country’s first gold medal and the mixed relay event made its debut.



  Gold Silver Bronze Total
Great Britain 1 2   3
United States   1 1 2
Bermuda 1     1
Norway 1     1
France     1 1
New Zealand     1 1


Gold: Kristian Blummenfelt (Norway)
Silver: Alex Yee (Great Britain)
Bronze: Hayden Wilde (New Zealand)

The race got off on the wrong foot, with a boat in the way, causing a restart of the competitors. It was a three-man race for the gold, with Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt pulling off the upset.

He shocked everyone with an incredible run, advancing from the fifth position to battling with Great Britain’s Alex Yee, a medal favorite, in the final two laps of the run. Blummenfelt was victorious, finishing with a time of 1:45:04. It was Norway’s first-ever medal in triathlon.

Yee is considered the future of the sport. It was the twenty-three-year old’s first Olympic Games, but his silver medal made Great Britain the most successful country in triathlon since its debut in 2000.

New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde was a surprise contender after a strong run in his first Olympic Games. He'd take home the bronze, crossing 20 seconds after Blummenfelt.

Noticeably absent from the podium was Jonathan Brownlee, a silver medalist in Rio and bronze in London. The Brit couldn’t maintain the sprint to the finish and placed fifth. He had already announced that Tokyo would be his last Olympics.

American Kevin McDowell finished 6th for the U.S. in his Olympic debut. It was the best-ever finish by an American man.

SEE MORE: Blummenfelt wins triathlon, earns Norway its 1st Tokyo gold


Gold: Flora Duffy (Bermuda)
Silver: Georgia Taylor-Brown (Great Britain)
Bronze: Katie Zaferes (United States)

The women’s race also suffered an ill-fated start. It was slightly delayed after rain and wind from Tropical Storm Nepartak created less-than-ideal conditions. The bad weather also led to more crashes on the bike portion with slippery roads.

Flora Duffy persevered, winning Bermuda’s first-ever gold medal. Duffy broke into the top spot on the cycling leg, finishing the race in 1:55:36. She finished roughly a minute and 14 seconds before silver medalist Georgia Taylor-Brown of Great Britain. Duffy proved age is just a number, winning gold in her fourth Olympics.

Entering the race, Taylor-Brown was a favorite to win gold. However, she suffered an inopportune flat tire on the cycling portion. It was impressive that she was able to make up the time and reach the podium at all.

Finally, American Katie Zaferes claimed bronze for the U.S. while teammates Summer Rappaport and Taylor Knibb finished 14th and 16th respectively. None of the top three on the podium had ever won an Olympic medal.

SEE MORE: Flora Duffy wins rain-soaked triathlon

Mixed team relay

Gold: Great Britain (Jessica Learmont, Jonathan Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee)
Silver: USA (Katie Zaferes, Kevin McDowell, Taylor Knibb, Morgan Pearson)
Bronze: France (Leonie Periault, Dorian Coninx, Cassandre Beaugrand, Vincent Luis)

The 2020 Games marked the debut of this event and the condensed triathlon race didn’t lack in excitement.  Each team had two male athletes and two female athletes. Teams had females start the race then alternate. Each leg consisted of a 300m swim, 7.4m bike and 1.8km run. The shortened lengths made the entire race feel like a sprint with each athlete.

Great Britain led the race from wire-to-wire and was never in danger of trailing. It was a complete race for the Brits, with each athlete asserting their dominance in the discipline. Brownlee proved he still had it in him, digging down into an extra gear. Taylor-Brown sought redemption for her blown tire and silver finish. Finally, Yee's run speed demonstrated fast runs are the future of triathlon. 

Going into the race, France was favored to win the gold, after winning the World Championships in 2019. For most of the first two legs, France was well behind the lead teams of Great Britain, the U.S. and Germany. However, Vincent Luis had a race to remember. Luis took the French from out of contention to second place by the start of the run. However, American Morgan Pearson was able to retake second from Luis.

Yee crossed the finish line at 1:23:41 for the race’s inaugural gold medal. The U.S. would finish 11 seconds later. Zaferes, as part of Team USA, won her second Olympic medal of the Games, becoming the only American triathlete to win two Olympic medals all-time. France finished 23 seconds later to round out the podium, taking home the bronze.

SEE MORE: Great Britain takes first-ever mixed team gold ahead of U.S.