Australia will be chasing a historic medal when the Triathlon mixed relay makes its Olympic debut on Saturday at Odaiba Marine Park.
A fast, tactical and action-packed event that will feature 17 nations competing in the inaugural race, teams comprise four athletes. Each competitor starts with a 300m swim, transitioning into a 6.8km bike leg and finishing with a 2km run.
“It’s an exciting dynamic between being both an individual race and team event and situations can quickly change, whether that’s in each discipline itself or over the course of four athletes,” Triathlon Australia’s Performance Director and Olympic Team Leader Justin Drew said of the mixed relay format.
As the only nation to have qualified six individual athletes for Tokyo, the Aussies have selection options to consider. Of particular interest will be the top-ranked Jacob Birtwhistle, who is recovering from a broken nose he sustained when he was kicked in the face during a chaotic false start in the men’s individual race on Monday.
Drew said Birtwhistle was making a good recovery and was in the mix for selection. His inclusion would be a huge boost for the Australian team as his powerful sprint finish is considered one of the best in the world in this format.
“Jake’s doing well. We’ll see how everyone is over the next 24 hours before confirming our final team,” Drew said.
“We are fortunate to have a talented squad here in Tokyo and I know whoever we go with will perform well.”
Emma Jeffcoat put her hand up for selection after being our top-placed finisher in the women’s individual event, with Ashleigh Gentle and Jaz Hedgeland also in the mix for the women’s spots. Matt Hauser and Aaron Royle are also in selection contention for the men’s spots.
The team list will be finalised two hours before the race.
Australia ranks as one of the top medal contenders in the mixed relay, alongside three-time World Champions and gold-medal favourites France, the USA, Great Britain, New Zealand and Belgium.
The race begins at 7:30am local time (8:30am AEST) on Saturday.