Are you ready for the fast and fun Mixed Relay?!
For Australian viewers, the Mixed Relay makes its Olympic debut on Saturday morning joining the mixed 4x400m relay in track and the mixed medley relay in swimming as new Olympic mixed-gender events.
The fast, tactical and spectator-friendly race showcases thrilling draft-legal racing that often comes down to a final sprint to the finish line. The mixed relay competition is unlike a triathlon relay at a local, age group race where three athletes combine to finish the race (one person swims, another bikes, another runs). Instead, in the mixed relay format, each athlete completes an entire super-sprint triathlon before tagging off to the next athlete.
Each country’s team is made up of two men and two women, with the order as: female/male/female/male. At the Olympics, each athlete will complete a super sprint triathlon of a 300m swim, 6.8K bike, and 2K run — which takes around 20 minutes total — before tagging the next athlete. Strategy and short-course speed are key to these events.
This relatively new discipline began in 2009 when the first World Championships were held in Des Moines, Iowa. A year later the mixed relay made its debut at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, and in 2017, it was announced that the mixed relay would make its Olympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020.
Australia would be confident of a strong performance, despite failing to shine in the individual events. With 32 podiums across the history of international competition at World Triathlon Mixed Relay events, this has resulted in 19 podiums and 6 victories – including the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal.
This new event and new focus has already made an impact on the Triathlon NSW / ACT Development Pathway. In December 2020, we announced a new sponsorship agreement with Property Development Insights (PDI) which ensures a greater focus and importance is placed on this new format. The sponsorship allowed us to better invest into the future of NSW athletes as they strive for future Olympic, Commonwealth and World Championship gold in the Mixed Relay (MR).
The short sharp racing format puts further focus and importance on ‘Transition’. This was deliberately added to the selection criteria to place emphasis on the critical role transition skills plays in future MR success. It was important that coaches understood this as well, and made sure it was included in their training and coaching. It's a small step towards nudging a cultural shift in our Triathlon Australia accredited coaches across the state.
It’s the technical skills required to move between swim, bike and run fast and error-free that makes the Mixed Team Relay format so distinctly unique. In fact, many athletes demonstrated the success of non traditional 'clip on' bike shoes in previous events, allowing a super quick movement after the bike leg and straight onto the 'run'.
Mixed Relay racing is a legitimate championship event and requires its own set of technical skills, tactical nous and physiological demands that differ from the individual events. Having Mixed Relay as a focus within our State Pathway environment will provide our athletes new opportunities above and beyond individual race formats.
Whichever way the end result ends up on Saturday, you can be sure to expect a fun, fast and furious race!
The Mixed Relay can be watched at Saturday 31st July 08:30 am on Channel 7.