Well, it was a star-studded field, and I had stated in weeks/months leading up to it, it was all bit hit and miss. A lot had not raced for a while because of Covid, and there were young ones coming up that were on hot form, but whether they could hold that for a peak event like the Olympics was another matter! I thought Vincent Luis would be hard to beat and if the run came down to a run Hayden Wilde would get a medal.
There were going to be 10 guys on that start line that could win the gold medal, and that all depended on how the race was going to pan out on the bike.
It looked at the start they had a good breakaway group, and I was hoping they would stay away to make for a true Swim/Bike/ Run. However, there were too many top athletes and power houses missing in that breakaway like Javier Gomez, Alistair Brownlee, Richard Varga that would push that bike. It was a course that you could stay away with very little in a bunch, given how technical it was.
4 laps in and they were caught, 1 big bunch to finish off- Running race it was! And from there we had a group of 8 in the lead, but the gold medal contenders I had were Alex Yee, Hayden Wilde, Jonny Brownlee, Tyler Mislawchuk and Kristian Bummenfelt, who I thought were all going to be big players if they brought their “A” game!
And most of them did apart from Tyler Mislawchuk who was on some great form leading in, but just not on the day.
Jonny Brownlee gave his all and stuck in there for as long as he could, Kevin McDowell was a bit of a surprise! I knew he can run fast but he really did look like he was hurting within the first 2km, then held that all the way for a top 6 finish!
It was down to Blummenfelt, Yee, and Wilde. Yee and Wilde looked the best, both natural runners and a phenomenal on the track. Wilde being the NZ 5000m champ this year. But out of nowhere Blummenfelt exerts his experience and the drive to wanting it more and sprints the last 1000m which stunned even me! How in the world does someone try to keep up with that?! Everybody that was watching was thinking “he can’t hold that for 1km could he?” And then history was made!
1st Kristian Blummenfelt
2nd Alex Yee
3rd Hayden Wilde
A brilliant and nerve-racking race.
Most people ask “how does a big guy like that run so fast?”. If you have been following him you know how hard he trains and how long. There are only 2 other people that could match his training and that is the Brownlee brothers. He trains 8-9 hours in the pool, 8-10 hours running – and 15-20 hours on the bike A WEEK! It usually sits around 30-35 hours a week. He says
“It's not just about getting lean and skinny so you can run fast, its more complex than that. In all endurance sports, specially in triathlon, you have do to a very very high volume of training to get out your potential in the sport. So I think it's more important to build a strong engine that can pull you forward instead of striving to lose an extra kilogram.”
So, what do I see the future looking like in ITU Triathlon? Well, I believe it is going to go back to a running race for the next 4 or 5 years, until another group of 6-8 top swimmers come through and challenge the swim-bike disciplines.
I don’t think we will see Gomez again in ITU, both Brownlee’s will be gone, Varga is not around much or has dropped the ball a bit on the bike. Therefor there is not really a “driving front bunch” like we saw in 3-6 years ago.
This is great for the young group of runners that are closing the gap. And by all means I am not taking anything away from the young Alex Yee or Hayden Wilde. Hayden use to be 90 seconds to 2minutes down out of the water, and now we are seeing 45 seconds to a minute, so they are working extra hard to close that gap! But I think there is not the same strong determined bunch of 6-8 guys at the front willing to dig themselves into oblivion on the bike to stay away.
Well done to everyone to got to the start line at the Olympics, you can see the emotion in everybody’s faces as they past the finish line, how much effort went into getting there, the sacrifices made, and how much it means to them. The Olympics is truly a great sporting event.
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