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British Triathlon CEO Andy Salmon believes Mixed Relay is blazing equality trail ahead of AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds this weekend.
The memory of Alex Yee crossing the line for Olympic mixed relay gold alongside Jonny Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Jess Learmonth in Tokyo last summer lives on in the mind for many.
And with this weekend’s hotly-anticipated AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds event also set to feature the innovative mixed relay event, Salmon says triathlon is rapidly changing the game.
He said: "The memory of what the team achieved in Tokyo last summer is right up there.
“It's a defining moment in that it was the first time we had seen mixed relay triathlon in the Olympic Games and Team GB winning the first ever gold medal.
"The individual races were popular but the popularity of the mixed relay was off the charts and the number of people who said to me afterwards that they were so taken back by what they saw.
"The key ingredient is that there were two women and two men racing in a team of four, the same distance as each other and competing as a team and beating the rest of the world.
"It was just a really loud statement for what triathlon stands for and something that's been integral to triathlon from the word go."
There is only 1️⃣ week to go until the Championship Series Mixed Relay elite race at @AJBell 2022 #WTCSLeeds!
🌳 Where - Roundhay Park, Leeds
📆 When - 12 June
⏰ Time - 1:25 PM
Get one of the best seats in the house 👉 https://t.co/8lyJduN2uC pic.twitter.com/j2lZKEmhHa
— British Triathlon (@BritTri) June 5, 2022
Triathlon was founded on the fundamental principle of equality within sport, with athletes racing over the same distances for equal prize money and equal broadcast coverage.
But Salmon knows that the sport must not stop there, adding: "We must not rest on our laurels - we still have more work to do.
“And that is why we are celebrating the fact that triathlon has such a rich pedigree of gender equality - we want more and more people to join us on the journey to make it truly an equal sport."
Emulating the successful addition of the mixed relay in Tokyo, this weekend’s AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds will also adopt the entertaining format.
And with the order of athletes pivoting to mean one of the female athletes will now cross the line for victory, Salmon is excited about what the future holds.
He added: "The format usually would be that a female athlete would lead off in the first leg, then a male athlete.
“And what that meant was, when that iconic moment of when Alex Yee finished the race and crossed the finish line in Tokyo, it was Alex whose image was captured.
"And what World Triathlon has done this year, and we applaud this, is reverse the order.
"So what people will see in Leeds, and the Games in Paris in 2024, is that it will be a woman who finishes the race and crosses the finish line, hopefully in first-place from a British perspective.
AJ Bell 2022 World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds takes place in Roundhay Park on 11-12 June and will see elite athletes competing on both days, with men’s and women’s individual sprint racing on Saturday and mixed relay on Sunday. Find out more about spectating at the event here https://leeds.triathlon.org/event_information/spectators/.