After the self imposed devaluation of the sport by Wanda with the years second worst debut IPO we are then confronted with the ITU Olympic Games race rehearsal!
One can excuse the ITU if they had very little input to the race venue or the architecture of the course. However as soon as the officials landed and realised what anyone that races in Tokyo or surrounds in the months of July August knows; pandemonium broke out. It seems that it is fine to race on ridiculous unsafe courses that have caused some of the great athletes hideous injuries. But when the weather is a little warm and humid, then panic breaks out for the health and safety of our 'assets' being the most important issue!
The fact that there are 30 races a year in these conditions doesn't seem to dawn on them. So what could only be described as the keystone cops display went into action. The numerous ITU and federation support staff flew into action to justify their salaries, and to ensure what was a race on a ridiculous course turned into a 'ghost busters' exercise.
Not even discussing the water that overnight become un-swimmable for the paratriathlon. There was a plethora of warnings - 'look out the weather will get you'. Then the federation hanger-ons who travel with the teams, the sports scientists, Drs, Physios, support coaches flew into action to justify their pay slips - and put further horror stories into the minds of athletes - 'You better watch out, you better be aware, the boogie man weather is coming to town'.
Well, for all the 'know-alls' that created the hysteria, as they are fresh out of university, races like these have been held for 30 years. I talked to one athlete that said her prior race was much hotter and more humid. 32C isn't out of the ordinary. Actually it's a little cooler than most races, if you race in Asia at this time of the year. Maybe ITU could send all of these pencil necks to go and actually do Ironman Malaysia, or Phuket to get a real practical understanding of this is normal in this area!
The ITU are starting to believe their own hysteria, and decided to turn the women's race into a genuine farce. We will have a sprint race? Well no. Let's just cut the run in half! So then no one can judge who can handle the adversity over the full Olympic distance. Most federations I am in contact with have now discounted the race as an Olympic qualifier - which is fine by me, as the selection period should start in April next year.....but it did show who can handle the heat and who can't.
However, I'm sure that will be swept under the rug, as being scientists they now have an agenda to come up with all sorts of ideas and gadgets to fix athletes who can't handle the heat. Wow how exciting for them to have a project that they can really get their teeth into.
So, one can theorise that ITU will now do what I predicted 3 or 4 years ago, and make the 2020 Olympic triathlon race a sprint distance.
You might be forgiven if you think this would be for the heat reason. Well no. It would be a good excuse, however it's for all the young up and comers, trained by the federation coaches, who can no longer can do a true Olympic distance race without melting.
Haven't you wondered why all the older athletes over the Olympic distance, still hammer the ones that now win the sprint races?
Nicola Spirig is 54 or something....has three kids, and a part time job. She still hammers them when the going gets tough. Alistair Brownlee was putting athletes to the sword in 2007. That's like 12 years ago! He has been doing all sorts of races in his old age, but occasionally pops back in and smashes all the pretenders. Gomez won the world championships back in 2008, and when the whips are cracking, over Olympic distance in 2019 we still hear his name as he forces his way to the front!
Over half the races in the World Triathlon Series are now sprints. So the speedy squibs, whoops I mean kids, can actually play. While the ITU muses why their greatest athletes no longer go to the series, when the ITU can't even hold a World Championship.
So off to Japan we go next year. What have we learned from the dress rehearsal? Well, let's see:
- there might be no swim
- the run may be shortened
- if it rains the course is going to be a crash fest
They could make it a sprint, then get the hell out of there as quick as possible. However the one thing we can be sure about, is the ITU will do it's best to put lipstick on a pig, and try to sell it as it is. Changing the course is not an option. As Ironman has shown us, why change anything when the money is in the bank.
Photo @ITU Media