Following its recent Executive Board meeting in Canada, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) has confirmed the launch of the new Mixed Relay Series, with two events debuting in 2018. The Mixed Relay Series will make its official debut in Nottingham, UK, on 7 June 2018, as part of the ITU World Triathlon Leeds event, which takes place on the weekend of 9-10 June 2018.
Athletes will then have another chance of earning points for the Mixed Relay Olympic Qualification Ranking in July, in the Edmonton Mixed Relay Series in Canada, as well as in the Mixed Relay World Championships in Hamburg.
ITU notes that the Mixed Relay Series will help boost the interest of athletes and spectators alike – focusing attention on the new addition to the Olympic Programme for Tokyo 2020.
Although the Olympic qualification criteria is still subject to the approval of the IOC Executive Board in February 2018, it is expected to kick off on 11 May 2018, and finish on the same day in 2020. There will be various ways to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and earn one of the 55 spots available for men and 55 for women.
As a new addition to the previous qualification criteria, there will be Mixed Relay events counting towards the qualification.
With unpredictable drama and the display of team pride, the Triathlon Mixed Relay format is positioned as triathlon racing at its most thrilling.
A release from ITU added, ‘It is also a chance to show the world what we are made of – we are a federation who strongly believe in gender balance and we showcase it at every single event. Now, and for the years before the Olympic Games, athletes will have the chance of competing in excellent events to earn points for the Olympic Qualification Ranking and guarantee their spot in the Tokyo 2020 pontoon.’
Marisol Casado, President of ITU and IOC Member, said “We are absolutely delighted with the launch of the Mixed Relay Series. Since we have the Mixed Relay added to the Olympic Programme, and with the debut in Tokyo 2020 in mind, we want to push all athletes and most of all, all National Federations to join us in the series and vie for one spot which will allow the teams to fight for another Olympic medal.”
She continued, “The Mixed Relay is an event that gives the sport something very important: a sense of team building. But most important, is an event that demonstrates that women and men can compete together but both are equally important to the success of the team. And I am sure that all those teams will shine brightly in Nottingham for the debut of the series.”
The Mixed Relay Series will debut on 7 June for the inaugural Accenture World Triathlon Mixed Relay Nottingham. The event will witness some of the world’s top triathlon quartets dive into the River Trent, before racing around Victoria Embankment on both bike and foot, just two days before they head north to take on the British leg of the ITU World Triathlon Series in Leeds.
Andy Salmon, British Triathlon CEO, said “Nottingham were fantastic hosts of this year’s Accenture British Triathlon Mixed Relay Cup and we are thrilled to be back again in 2018, this time to showcase even more triathlon talent from across the globe.”
The fast and furious format will then move to Hamburg for the Mixed Relay World Championship, which will also give chances to teams to earn points in the Olympic Qualification Rankings.
“During the last five years, the Mixed Team Relay World Championship has become one of the highlights of the Hamburg event,” said Oliver Schiek, IRONMAN Managing Director in Germany. “We are therefore very proud that, together with the city of Hamburg and DTU, we succeeded in getting this great format back to the Alster Lake in 2018.
“With the top competitors, the short distances and the thrilling drama, the Mixed Relay World Championship will be the crowning element of the world’s largest triathlon party again.”
The last leg, in 2018, of the Mixed Relay Series will be in Edmonton, along with the WTS race that will take place in July. “We are very happy to have the opportunity to be part of the ITU Mixed Relay series,” said Sheila O’Kelly, Managing Director of WTS Edmonton. “As organisers, we are very focused on providing the best racing and competitive opportunities at the elite level. So, being part of this exciting new series that will make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Olympic Games is a big thrill for us.”
ITU added that all five Mixed Relay Continental Championships will also give points on the Olympic Qualification Rankings.