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Triathlon was invented in the early 1970s by the San Diego Track Club, as an alternative workout to the rigours of track training. The club's first event consisted of a 10km run, an 8km cycle and a 500m swim. Over the next decade, triathlon’s popularity continued to build, and it soon gained worldwide recognition.
In 1989, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded in Avignon, France, and the first official World Championships were held. The official distance for triathlon was set at a 1,500m swim, a 40km cycle and a 10km run – taken from existing events in each discipline already on the Olympic programme.
In 1991, the ITU launched its first full season of the World Cup circuit. Twelve races were contested in nine different countries. More World Cup races have subsequently been added every year as the sport’s appeal continues to grow.
Triathlon made its Olympic full medal debut at the 2000 Sydney Games. This helped the sport to become even more popular. It now has over 120 affiliated national federations around the world.