July 26, 2021

By Mitch Phillips

TOKYO (Reuters) – For a man brought up in the chilly climes of Bergen in Norway it was something of a surprise to hear Kristian Blummenfelt say he was a bit disappointed that the temperature had not been a bit higher at Monday’s Olympic men’s triathlon.

Blummenfelt overcame what everyone else seemed to consider debilitating sweltering conditions to forge clear in the last km of the 10km run course to take gold – Norway’s first Olympic medal in the sport.

“Our team is world-leading for heat preparation so we were a bit disappointed it was not as warm as we were hoping for,” he said, as the 06.30 local start and a light breeze made conditions more manageable.

It was still a fierce challenge, however, and the sweat-drenched Blummenfelt’s kit certainly looked as if he had been on a maximum cycle as it became transparent during the run and revealed a slightly bizarre view of his black trunks underneath.

“I’m from Bergen where for two thirds of the year it’s windy, rainy and 10 degrees but that just shows the strength of the team around us in getting that preparation,” he said.

The victory was also a reward for Blummenfelt’s personal preparation as he honed his technique and timing with a similar victory on the International Triathlon Circuit a few miles down the road in Yokohama in May.

“I’ve been thinking about this race for so many years,” said Blummenfelt. “I was on holiday here many years ago and thought to myself ‘OK, your goal is to win an Olympic gold medal here in 2020.”

Blummenfelt honed his race tactics in Yokohama, realising he would not be able to outsprint some of his rivals his strategy was to kick early from around a kilometre out and hang on.

“I knew I couldn’t outkick them on the carpet (finishing straight) but I could use my engine and really bring it home,” said the man who holds the world record for triathlon’s half-ironman distance.

It worked in Yokohama and it worked again in Tokyo on Monday as he drew the sting out of Briton Alex Yee and New Zealander Hayden Wilde, who took silver and bronze.

“I remember watching him on TV in Yokohama and I was waiting for him to go today and when he did I just thought ‘yep, there it is,’, said Wilde, who was unable to respond.

“But he did his work on the bike, he didn’t hide on the run and he definitely deserves the gold medal.”

(Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by)