TOKYO — The first day of triathlon competition kicked off with a bang Monday morning in Tokyo as first-time U.S. Olympian Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) made history, earning the highest-ever finish by a U.S. man at the Olympic Games in sixth place.
Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway won gold, his first Olympic medal, completing the 1,500-meter swim in Tokyo Bay, 40-kilometer draft-legal bike and 10-kilometer run in 1:45:04. Great Britain's Alex Yee won silver, finishing in 1:45:15 and Hayden Wilde of New Zealand took the bronze in 1:45:24. The race was held at Tokyo's Odaiba Marine Park, and athletes faced hot and humid conditions — with air temperatures in the low 80s Farenheit and water temperatures in the mid-80s.
Enjoy these photos of the action, from Tommy Zaferes of World Triathlon.
First-time Olympian Kevin McDowell, ready to race.
Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) the other American man in the men's triathlon race, was 25th out of the water and joined the first group of chasers on the bike.
McDowell exited the swim in 47th place, fifth from the back, but used a strong bike to ride his way into contention. He started the eight-lap course in the second chase pack, more than 35 seconds down from the leading group of nine. By the halfway point, all three groups at the front half of the race had merged, forming one large pack of 30 athletes that worked together through the remaining four laps.
Pearson was unable to hold onto the bike group and found himself in 46th place at the second transition. On the run, he had to serve a 15-second penalty that was issued to him after the swim for dropping equipment (a swim cap) outside of the designated area during the first transition. He finished 42nd.
McDowell came out of transition onto the run in third place, along with Switzerland's Andrea Salvisberg and Yee, with Blummenfelt and Wilde close behind.
McDowell, 28, hung tough in the run with Yee — considered by many the top runner in the field — even briefly taking the lead midway through the 10k. Yee, Blummenfelt and Wilde pulled away to form a top-three lead pack. McDowell sprinted to the finish to place sixth, the best finish in Games history for an American man.
The podium finishers: from left to right: Great Britain's Alex Yee with the silver, Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway with the gold and Hayden Wilde of New Zealand with the bronze.