The First Olympic Men’s Triathlon
By Siri Lindley, US Olympic Team Alternate
ISSUE #8, October/November 2000 – It’s 7:00 am and I walk out my hotel door to go for my morning jog. I am amazed to see that the streets of sydney are already abuzz. Some people extending their nights carousing into the day and most others on their way to getting prime viewing real estate for the first ever Men’s Olympic Triathlon. Yes, thousands of people already in motion at this early hour. Eager to get in a good spot to witness this historical event. The day before the world was introduced to triathlon via the women’s race. Now, even more people wanted to be a part of this great new spectacle.
By the time I had finished my run and had made it over to the Sydney Opera House, thousands of fans had secured their spots and begun the now famous cheer of “aussie, aussie, aussie, oi, oi, oi”. The sounds of the crowd were deaf-ening, the excite-ment contagious while the ath-letes all seemed serene and focused, the day of their dreams has arrived.
I had bought tickets to the Sydney Opera House stands, myself and thousands of others. This spot overlooks the transi-tion area and farm cove, the stage of the swim. There was a gigantic tv screen strategically placed in front of our seats where we could watch every piece of the action all over the course. I knew this would be two of the best hours of entertainment one could imagine. The race began, and we all held our breath, feeling sym-pathetically the nerves and excite-ment of the athletes. The swim was like most other World Cup races, a long string of athletes. No one, even the fish-like Craig Walton, could break away. About 40 or so athletes exited the choppy water together. It was a race to the bikes, everyone keep-ing close eye on the expected players, those who could change the race, break away on the bike and be a danger.
Once on the bike, the pack formed. Craig Walton attempted a few breakaways with some other athletes including Simon Lessing and Joachim Willen from Sweden. Their great efforts however, only led to the pack working that much harder in pursuit and denying them their freedom each time. The pack of 40 was a sight to see. Going at fast speeds through the narrow streets of Sydney, one couldn’t help but worry about the possibility of a crash.
Towards the end, Conrad Stoltz and World Champion Olivier Marceau broke away from the group. Their move went uncontested, with the pack deciding not to go after this threat. Surprisingly, the heroic efforts of the two rewarded them with a one minute lead com-ing off the bike. A good cushion for two athletes not well known for running strength. Marceau took off on the run , with Stoltz running hard but falling off the pace. The rest of the pack arrived with our Colorado based American crew. I yelled out words of encourage-ment, knowing our guys had a great shot at getting in the hunt if their natural talents permitted them to. All the favorites were in this pack: Lessing, Robertson, Gaag, etc. It was going to be a dog fight out there; a dog fight at this point for third place, unless they could first hunt down the top two.
As the run went on, Marceau and Stoltz were caught by Stephan Vucovich from Germany, Simon Whitfield from Canada and my training partner from the Chech Republic, Jan Rehula. The favorites and our American men were back a ways, feeling the results of a hard 40km ride.
As the race really began to take shape, Vucovich took the lead. The leading trio remained in close contact, as anything could happen. The excitement in the crowd was contagious, the energy intense, everyone was lov-ing the day, loving being apart of history. Each athlete was out there giving their all, being the best that they could be on this day, taking in the event and appreciat-ing their place in it. It came down to a sprint to the fin-ish with Canadian Whitfield taking charge and acceler-ating to the finish with amazing speed and determina-tion. In tears at the finish, his dream had come true. Vucovich was second, Rehula third and all three the happiest people on earth at that moment. Our Americans, although not having their best performances all put in gallant efforts and gave it their all with the goods they possessed on the day. We cheered them in and praised them for all the great effort they have put in to get here. Proud to be an American, we waved our flags and welcomed them over the finish. A great day, that will go down in history and will remain a fond memory for all.
U.S. Olympic Team Results
4. Joanna Zeiger 2:01:25
6. Sheila Taormina 2:02:39
13. Jennifer Gutierrez 2:03:38 (Greenwood Village)
17. Hunter Kemper 1:50:05 (Colorado Springs)
25. Ryan Bolton 1:50:52 (Boulder)
40. Nick Radkewich 1:53:44 (Colorado Springs)