By Masa Takaya on 19/08/10 at 8:38 am
Youth Olympic Games bronze medallist Alois Knabl (AUT) edged out the Youth Games champion Aaron Barclay (NZL) in a thrilling finish, claiming the YOG Team Triathlon gold medal for Team Europe 1. Knabl’s European squad, which included Eszter Dudas (HUN), Miguel Valente Fernandes (POR) and Fanny Beisaron (ISR), clocked the total time of 1:19:51.42, finishing less than four seconds ahead of the Oceania Team, anchored by Barclay.
The 4 x mixed relay competition kicked off with 15 teams taking to the waters of Singapore’s East Coast Park. Teams were made up of two women and two men from each continent, according to the athletes’ finishing positions in the individual events. Each of the four participants in the relay completed a super-sprint triathlon (250-metre swim, 7km bike, 1.7km run) before tagging a team member to start the next leg.
After the opening leg, Yuka Sato of Japan, who won the individual women’s competition earlier this week, created a five-second advantage for Team Asia 1, but a group of 10 athletes caught the Asian team during the second leg. Men’s individual silver medallist Kevin McDowell (USA) dominated leg two, creating a 17-second lead for Team Americas 1. Team Americas 2 was the next group to make the second exchange, followed by Team Oceania 1 and Team Europe 1, each almost a minute back of the leaders.
Oceania’s Maddie Dillon and Europe’s Beiraron rode together during leg three to make up huge chunks of time and edging Team Americas 2 out of medal contention. Entering the final exchange, Team Americas 1 had a slight lead, but Team Europe 1 and Team Oceania 1 were only seconds behind.
Argentina’s Laurato Diaz of Team Americas 1 took a 14-second lead onto the final 1.7K run segment, but he had to serve a 15-second penalty for unfastening his helmet too soon, and was passed by Barclay and Knabl. The two leaders sprinted the final run segment at an incredible pace, with Knabl pulling away just a few metres from the finish. Knabl’s total time of 18:56 was the fastest among the anchor legs, earning the European 1 team the first-ever YOG Team Relay Triathlon gold medal.
“I had great teammates and they did great jobs,” Knabl said. “It was really hard in the end as I had to beat the Youth Olympic Champion from the individual race. It’s really great that three days ago I got bronze and today I got the gold. I’d love to compete the team event in the Olympics someday!”
At the guest stand of the East Coast Park venue, ITU was honoured to welcome IOC President Jacques Rogge. In his notes to the international press published a day before the opening of the Youth Games, Rogge mentioned Team Triathlon along with other sports’ new formats as an “interesting innovation”, reflecting the Olympic programme changing attitudes to sport and society. “All of these are designed to appeal to a younger audience and inspire the young athletes,” Rogge noted.
Marisol Casado, president of ITU and member of IOC, said, “We believe Team Triathlon has tremendous appeal to youth, and can help expose a new generation to this wonderful sport. With a number of lead changes, plenty of unpredictable dramas and the display of team pride, today, we proved it. ITU is very passionate about having the discipline added in the Olympic programme to inspire youth to take up this wonderful sport.”
The 2010 ITU Team Triathlon World Championships is set to take place in Lausanne, Switzerland this weekend, with many of the top-ranked Elite triathletes in the world slated to compete . The same 4 x mixed relay format will be used, while teams will be formed by countries instead of continents. Team Triathlon in Elite level competition is a stepping stone to further reinforce ITU’s initiative in sport development among youth.
Find more details about this event - 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games