(ATR) A public holiday saw thousands of people pack the streets of Copacabana for the Rio 2016 men’s triathlon, witnessing Great Britain’s Alistair Brownlee become the first man to retain Olympic gold in the sport.
Brownlee and his younger brother Jonny dominated the race in its entirety, making the most ground in the run where they were able to pull away to a victorious one-two finish.
"It's amazing," Alistair Brownlee said. We wanted to get gold and silver four years ago [when Jonny took bronze], but this time we pulled it off. When Jonny crossed the line, I said to him, 'We've done it'. We've both had tough years. We push each other to the max. To see little brother come over the line 10 seconds after you is phenomenal. It's so satisfying."
Hundreds of people stood on the Copacabana sand to watch the triathlon commence with a beach start for the first time in its Olympic history. Unlike the marathon swimming earlier in the week which was a last minute plan to start from the beach, the triathlon start was well organized and controlled.
The five kilometer circuit for both the bike and the run legs of the event had crowds five or six people deep the whole way around, finally providing the carnival atmosphere everyone had been expecting of Rio.
The closure of streets throughout Copacabana did little to affect the already chaotic flow of traffic and the logistics of the morning seemed to run without any major hitches.
The course was mostly flat but very technical, with one short, sharp hill that separated groups in the bike-leg. Just one small crash impeded an otherwise smooth race, with three riders forced to withdraw while Canada’s Andrew Yorke continued to the finish.
The only real complaint from the athletes was about the heat. With an 11am start, the bright, blue-sky day saw athletes competing in the heat of the day.
"It was just so hot out there," Canadian athlete Tyler Mislawchuk said. "You could feel the heat just coming up off the tarmac the whole way. It was pretty tough."
Other than the relentless heat, spectators and media in the stadium area of the course were subjected to entertainment courtesy of Vinicius the mascot and some Rio dancers. It remains a mystery why organizers chose to show footage of the mascot and his sidekick dancers for minutes on end on the big-screen while all were eager to be watching the race which was unfolding out of their sight.
The women’s triathlon will take place at 11am on Saturday with big crowds again expected and Gwen Jorgensen of the USA the favorite for gold.
Written by Alice Wheeler in Copacabana.
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