The International Triathlon Union's ambition to have Team Triathlon included in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games was boosted by the successful European Team Triathlon Championships in Pontevedra, Spain today.
Crowds in the northern Spanish city were excited to see the 4x mixed, super-sprint distance relays. A total of 40 athletes (10 teams) from nine countries participated in the elite team race. Meanwhile, 72 athletes (18 teams) from 14 countries competed in the junior competition, no doubt dreaming of doing the same in the 2016 Olympic Games.
"I think it's very good for spectators," Rebecca Robish, who led off the winning German relay at European Championships. "It is a very fast race and everything changes. Relay is very important because, for now, we are looking forward Lausanne. We are European champs and we want to be World champs."
The Junior athletes, perhaps even more enthusiastic about the prospect of competing in event in 2016, enthused about the possibility.
"Relay triathlon is much more exciting than normal triathlon, as nobody knows what's going to happen," Maddy Winzer, a member of the winning Junior Mix Relay, said. "It is a lot more spectator friendly."
Winzer's teammate agreed.
"I think it will be a great event for the Olympics," Cameron Milne said. "All the teams can be really close together and it's not really certain who is going to win. It is a great event to watch."
The European Championships have a long history with the team format, which was composed of 300m swim, 8km bike and 2km run for each athlete this year. The truly youth-friendly format was introduced at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games for the first time in a global multi-sport competition. The International Triathlon Union launched the ITU Team Triathlon World Championships in 2006 but the format was revamped in 2009 as it became a mixed event. This year's championships will be held on 21 August in the Olympic capital of Lausanne, Switzerland.
"I am extremely pleased to see such large crowds so excited by the races, which was a clear statement how the sport engages audiences," said ITU President and IOC Member Marisol Casado. "Many lead changes, unpredictable dramas and the display of team pride, the essences that can captivate people in Team Triathlon."
"I am also delighted to hear that Olympians and even future Olympians love the event and are hoping to race this event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We will keep working toward our goal of having the discipline included in the Olympic programme by developing the sport in every corner of the world," Casado added.
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