The official pontoon draw for the men’s triathlon competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games has taken place, with leading men choosing opposing ends of the pontoon for the swim in The Serpentine on Tuesday.
In the blind selection that was conducted at the Hyde Park venue, the top ten athletes in the ITU Olympic qualification rankings were first to select their starting positions. After the occupied positions - but not individual athlete names - were revealed on a big screen, the remaining athletes chose their places. The exact spots of the top ten selections were not shown until the end of the draw.
Dual ITU World Champion Javier Gomez (ESP) was first to choose and he chose the spot on the left edge, 55, while three other athletes in the top-10 lined up beside him, France’s David Hauss and Laurent Vidal in 54 and 53 respectively. Russia’s Dmitry Polyanskiy chose slot 52.
However, Polyanskiy’s teammate Alexander Bryukhankov, who was second to choose his place, picked the opposite end of the pontoon with number 1. Bryukhankov will be flanked by the Brownlee brothers, with Alistair Brownlee picking 2 and Jonathan Brownlee taking 3, with his Russian teammate Ivan Vasiliev just a few slots away in 7. New Zealand’s Kris Gemmell is another strong swimmer on that side, in 9, and two-time Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty will be on his teammate’s shoulder in 10. The reigning Olympic champion Jan Frodeno, and his German temmate Steffen Justus will also start on the edge of the right side of the pontoon in places 6 and 4 respectively.
Slovakia’s Richard Varga, who is considered to be the fastest swimmer in the sport and has been training with the Brownlee brothers for the past month, will start from the middle of the pontoon in slot 25. The entire Australian and Canadian teams will line up together, filling places 41 to 46. Switzerland’s team of Athens bronze medallist Sven Riederer and Ruedi Wild will also line up on that edge, in 50 and 49 respectively. Germany’s Maik Petzold and South Africa’s Richard Murray were next to choose that side, in positions 48 and 47.
Hunter Kemper (USA), who is one of only two men to make four consecutive Olympics for triathlon alongside Simon Whitfield (CAN), said while the men might have taken some notes from the women’s swim the outcome was generally reflective of the average race.
“I think maybe the men watched the women and saw the left was good, but it maybe wasn’t the ideal spot, sometimes when you get the best swimmers on one side… there is a lot of jostling because they are the same calibre,” Kemper said.
“The right side had Lucy Hall and some girls who aren’t as higher-ranked but they are great swimmers, they looked like they were going well from the right because they had clear water. I think typically what you normally have is would be what the men did today…I think it was kind of unusual to see the women all go to one side. I think for the men that pontoon draw is exactly how it would play out in any other race.”
Just before the draw, the technical delegates presented the athlete briefing where athletes are informed of all the important technical and logistical details regarding the triathlon competition.
The men’s triathlon competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games gets underway at 11.30am (local time) on Tuesday August 7. Check listings with your national Olympic broadcaster for viewing details. There will be no live stream or timing from ITU, but you can follow the race with live text at triathlon.org/live and on Twitter through @ITUonline and @triathlonlive
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