Retrospective Triathlon in the Olympic Games: Sydney 2000

In this new series, we bring all the stories of Triathlon in the Olympic Games, beginning with its debut in Sydney.

The Sydney Olympics in 2000 marked the debut of Triathlon in the Olympic Games. Created in 1978, the sport had one of its most important moments on September 16, the date of the women’s race. The men’s race happened the next day, September 17, 2000.

E. Honda / ITU
E. Honda / ITU


For triathlon to be included in the Olympics, the ITU – International Triathlon Union had to make some changes and create the so-called Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km cycling and 10km running).  ITU also has to make adjustments in the rules, the most striking of which is to allow  drafting in the bike leg.

With its debut as an Olympic sport, Triathlon gained the attention of billions of people around the world, mostly through the huge hype that followed the last Olympics of the century.  Canadian Simon Whitfield and the Swiss Brigitte McMahon were the inaugural Olympic champions of the sport.

That year, swimming was the most difficult test. In addition to the low temperature, sharks also swam in Sydney Harbour waters. Divers used devices that emitted electromagnetic waves to ward off any untoward incident against the Olympians.

Obara Takumi
Obara Takumi

The whole triathlon competition consisted of 48 women and 52 men, totaling 100 athletes. Asian triathlon was represented by Japan (3 men, 3 women) and China (2 women).  Takumi Obara of Japan was the top Asian finisher, finishing with a time of 2:05:93, and placing 21st overall among men.  Kiyomi Niwata of Japan placed 14th overall in the women’s competition.

See also:  Gallery: Images from Tri-United Standard Subic Bay, Philippines

Check out the medalists:


Gold – Simon Whitfield (CAN)

Silver – Stephan Vuckovic (ALE)

Bronze – Rehula Jan (CZE)


Gold – Brigitte McMahon (SUI)

Silver – Michellie Jones (AUS)

Bronze – Magali Messmer (SUI)

In the next chapter of the series, we follow what happened to Asian triathletes in the 2004 Athens Olympics. Stay tuned to this Olympic triathlon retrospective, only on AsiaTRI.com.

Follow us
Share this article