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The first recorded swim/bike/run triathlon took place in San Diego, California on September 24, 1974, consisting of a 5.3-mile run, followed by a 5-mile bike ride and a 600-yard swim. One athlete in that triathlon, John Collins, was influential in the sport’s development by creating the first Ironman triathlon, inspired by a debate over who were the most-fit athletes: runners, swimmers or others. He took three existing events – the 2.4-mile Waikiki Rough Water Swim, the 112-mile Around-Oahu Bike Ride and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon – and combined them into one event in February 1978. The first Ironman event featured just 15 competitors. Two years later a Sports Illustrated article led to 106 entries, including two women.

Paula Findlay

By 1988, the IOC was intrigued by the sport and began discussions to include it in the Olympic program. Canadian Les McDonald was selected to be president of a working committee for triathlon. On April 1, 1989 the International Triathlon Union was created with McDonald as its first president. In its initial congress, the ITU set the Olympic distance at a 1.5km swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run with the first world championships held in August 1989.

Triathlon debuted at the 1995 Pan American Games, one year after the IOC Congress approved it to become a full medal sport at Sydney 2000.


Men and Women

The men’s race and the women’s race are contested over the same course with a 1.5km open water swim, a 40km bike ride and a 10km run.

The swimming leg begins with a mass start. If the water temperature is below 14°C, the athletes are required to wear wetsuits. If the water temperature is above 20°C, wetsuits are forbidden. If the temperature falls between the two limits, the Technical Delegates decide what competitors may wear.

As athletes finish the swim, they proceed to the transition area to prepare for the cycling leg. To make the transition quicker, the athletes are permitted to attach their bike shoes to the bike pedals. Athletes must have their helmets on and securely fastened at all times when in possession of their bikes. Cycling is not permitted in the transition area, so athletes must be wearing their helmets while running alongside their bikes between the racks and the line where they can mount their bikes.

As the athletes finish the bike ride, they go through the transition area again to prepare for the running leg. The clock continues to run throughout the transition phases, so it is vital to make the change from discipline to discipline as quickly as possible. The first athlete to cross the finish line is declared the winner.

Canadian Medallists







GoldSimon Whitfield2000 Sydney Men -
SilverSimon Whitfield2008 BeijingMen -
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