There are three events in the triathlon: a
1.5K swim, a 40K bike ride, and a 10K run. Both
men and women compete in exactly the same events,
but on separate days.
There is no scoring, as such, in the triathlon. The clock starts as soon as
the gun sounds for the first event—the swim. The three events are performed
one after another, with no rest breaks or timeouts. The competitor who crosses
the line first at the end of the swim, bike ride, and run wins the gold medal
for the competition. All athletes need speed, strength, and endurance, of
course, but strategy is just as important.
1.5K Swim - The fastest swimmers tend
to be in the lead, but slower swimmers often
swim “on the toes” or in the
draft of a faster swimmer. This strategy
can keep them in the race. At the end of
the swim, which takes place in open water,
the athletes have to change from swim caps
and goggles—or their wetsuits if the
water temperature is below 20º C (68º F)—and
get on their bicycles.
40K Bike - Triathletes must put on
cycling helmets, but it is standard procedure
to have shoes already attached to the bike
pedals and to put them on as the athletes get
up to speed on the course. Drafting—cycling
behind another, faster competitor—is
legal in an Olympic triathlon and saves energy.
10K Run - The final event of the triathlon—the
10K run—begins with another change of
gear for the athletes. They get rid of their
helmets, slide into running shoes, and are
off for the last of the three events. There
may be a surge during the run—runners
trying to put distance between themselves and
the other runners.
History, and Fast Facts
General Sports Links
Olympians will compete in dozens of sports this summer. Even though Gateway
to the Summer Games can't feature them all, you can learn about each and
every one by visiting the sites listed below.