Guide to Olympic Cycling: Triathlon

Guide to Olympic Cycling: Triathlon

In the Olympic schedule, Triathlon is it's own event combining swimming, cycling and running. It's exciting to watch, with competitors needing to be well-rounded athletes as well as disciplined in each change. A few seconds fumbling with your helmet strap can make all the difference, so this one is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Are you a budding triathlete, inspired by the Olympics and looking to push yourself? You'll need a reliable road bikes to get you a third of the way there - the swimming and running parts, well that's really up to you.

Read on to discover more about Olympic Triathlon and Aussies to look for.

What time is it on?

Times are in AEST. If you're viewing on mobile, you'll need to switch your phone to landscape mode to see the full guide.

If you just want to see the highlights, Channel 7 will be running a nightly recap show at 7pm (AEST) on its main channel.

Date Start Time End Time Discipline Event
18th Aug 11:50pm 2:35am Triathlon Men's Final
20th Aug 11:50pm 2:33am Triathlon Women's Final
        See the full Viewing Guide for more



While the idea of tri-sport competitions, a single race involving three different sporting disciplines has roots in 1902, these involved running, cycling and canoeing. The more familiar form of swim/bike/run - not always in that order - appeared in the 1920s in France.

The modern Triathlon began more formally in the US as a way for track athletes to keep fit and vary their training. In 1974 the first event to be officially titled a ‘triathlon’ was held in San Diego, California. The sport made it’s Olympic debut in the 2000 Sydney Games.

The triathlon is truly anyone’s game; shining example of the never give up/anything can happen rule is Austrian Kate Allen. At Athens 2004, out of 50 athletes who started the race she was 44th after the swim and 28th after the cycling yet managed to sprint her way to gold in the final 200 meters of the run.

The Event

The men and women complete the same course on separate days for the Rio 2016 event. It’s the ultimate test of of both physical and mental strength, testing the limits of their speed and endurance.

It starts with a 1.5km swim in open water from Copacabana Beach and athletes may use any style they wish - though doggy paddle may not be the wisest choice, as the much speedier freestyle is the preferred form.

Ditching the swimming goggles and swapping cap for helmet, athletes will them complete a 40km bike race. Unique to Rio 2016, a technique for conserving energy by cycling closely behind another athlete - known as drafting - will be allowed. This technique allows the cyclist behind to take advantage of the slipstream as the cyclist in front must use more effort to break through the wind.

Before beginning the next section, competitors must remove the helmet and cycling shoes or they will face a time penalty. They can also be fined for malpractice and even disqualified for threatening the safety of their rivals at any stage of the event. The triathlon comes to a thrilling conclusion with the 10km run. First to cross the line takes home the gold.

Did you know?

Australia is the most successful country in Triathlon with one gold, two silver and two bronze won for the green and gold.

Aussies to look for

Men’s - Ryan Bailie, Aaron Royle and Ryan Fisher

Women’s - Erin Dersham, Emma Moffatt and Ashleigh Gentle

Are we a medal chance?

Returning for their record-breaking third Olympics as tri-athletes, Erin Desham and Emma Moffat are well-seasoned pros. While in good form, pressure from the strong US team led by World Triathlon Champion Gwen Jorgensen, means they’ll need to pull off their best performance to date to see them in top spot on the podium.

Coming in with stiff competition from international favourites, reigning Olympic champion British Alistair Brownlee and Spanish silver medalist Javier Gomez Noya, the Aussie boys are faced with a mammoth challenge. With all three Aussie representatives making their Olympic debuts, the boys will have to be quick off the back foot to have any hope of bringing home a medal.

Cycling at the Olympics

Find out everything you've ever wanted to know about all the awesome Cycling events at the Olympics:

Back to blog
1 of 3