TOKYO: Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway won the men’s triathlon Olympic title yesterday in a race marred by a bizarre false start. The 27-year-old — the first Norwegian to medal in the triathlon — crossed the line in a time of 1hr 45min 4sec before raising the tape above his head and throwing himself to the ground in celebration. Victory came as no surprise to Blummenfelt. “When I was standing on the pontoon ready to go,” he responded as to when he thought he would win. Jack Yee of Britain took silver 11 seconds behind the winner whilst Hayden Wilde of New Zealand took bronze.
But the main talking point after the race was the chaotic start, which saw around two thirds of the 56 competitors dive into the water and set off on the swimming leg only to be hauled back. The farcical scenes were caused by a media boat filming the competitors lined up before diving into the water for the 1.5 kilometer swimming leg. The pilot of the boat carried on his trajectory oblivious to the fact the siren had gone for the start of the race. Whilst Yee and others who had been filmed were able to dive in to clear water the triathletes further along were blocked by the boat, which also reversed dangerously close to athletes already in the water.
Those able to had begun their race but were recalled once organizers realized the full extent of the disruption. “I saw the boat like going past the pontoon and I was like surprised that I had this start so quickly and I saw on my left side that there was the camera boat in front of mid-group,” said Blummenfelt. “So when I swam the first 50 meters I was aware that this couldn’t be right and I was keeping a little bit steady and I looked at (it) as a positive thing, as I hadn’t been swimming for 30 minutes. It was good practice.”
Wilde for his part said it was “kind of good but kind of annoying.” “It is what it is and you’ve just got to keep composed, and sometimes that happens and you’ve just got to roll with the punches,” he said. It was the first time since triathlon made its Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000 there had been a false start. “It’s simply remarkable to see that,” the announcers said.
‘A normal boy’
Britain had dominated this event in the past two editions through the Brownlee brothers. However, two-time champion Alistair Brownlee was not selected and his brother Jonathan — who has previously taken silver and bronze — finished fifth, 49 seconds off the champion in a race held in trying conditions.
Brownlee had looked a threat as he was part of a group of six approaching the bell for the last of the four running laps. But his hopes of becoming the first triathlete to win all three types of medals were dashed as Blummenfelt upped the pace at the front.
Yee stayed with Blummenfelt for most of the final lap but the barrel-chested Norwegian had far too much in reserve and pulled away to become the first from his country to medal in the event. “It hasn’t really sunk in quite yet, it doesn’t feel real like it’s me yet,” said Yee. “I still feel like a normal boy from south east London. – AFP