“Don’t worry Jack. We’ll get you one on Thursday,” said Daniel Hoy (NZL) as he arranged his silver medal for a photo shoot ahead of the mixed relay triathlon at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. But “Jack” is not a New Zealand teammate, but rather Australia’s Jack Van Stekelenburg. A New Zealander offering to help an Australian win a medal? Has the world gone mad?
But it is the reality for Oceania 1, the four-person mixed relay team that also features women’s gold medallist Brittany Dutton (AUS) and Elizabeth Stallard (NZL).
Team Europe: Ben Dijkstra (left) and Emil Hansen talk tactics
Meanwhile, from the other side of the world, traditional rivals France, Germany and Great Britain will team up, alongside Denmark. “Ben is going to run us home,” Emil Deleuran Hansen (DEN) said. “I’m going to try, anyway,” Ben Dijkstra (GBR) replied. Men’s gold medallist Dijkstra and bronze medallist Hansen will be joined in Europe 1 by women’s bronze medallist Emilie Morier (FRA) and fourth-placed Kristin Ranwig (GER).
These are just some of the fascinating combinations created by the mixed triathlon competition. It features teams representing continents, formed by combining the top two ranked men, and top two ranked women from each continent in the individual races. The next top pair from each gender form a second team for their continent, and so on, until there are not enough athletes, at which stage world teams are created..
Thursday’s race at the Xuanwu Lake Triathlon Venue will feature five Europe teams, four America teams, three Asia teams, one Africa team, one Oceania team, and two World teams.
The Oceania team is confident it has the edge in terms of cameraderie. “We work well with the kiwis [New Zealanders]. They’re good friends and we train well together,” Dutton said. “It will be a good race on Thursday and I think we’ll do well.”
Each triathlete will complete his or her own shorter triathlon – 250m swim, 6.6km bike and 1.8km run – before tagging the next athlete.
Dijkstra says everyone needs to be extremely careful at the transition, which is something he knows very well, after a protest in the individual race threatened his eventual gold medal. “There’s going to be eight transitions, so four times as many opportunities for infringements to occur. But hopefully we’ll have a cleaner transition, maybe on my part. We’ll try and prevent that from happening, so that once we cross the line we actually know the result,” Dijkstra said.