With the German flag around her shoulders and a smile on her face, triathlete Laura Lindemann enjoyed the last few meters to the finish after an exhausting race, past several thousand cheering spectators on Hamburg’s Rathausmarkt. Their relay colleagues Tim Hellweg, Annika Koch and Simon Henseleit were already waiting there to celebrate their triumph: World Championship gold in the mixed relay. “It was super nice, it couldn’t be any better”, Lindemann rejoiced after the relay over 4x 300 meters swimming, 7 kilometers cycling and 1.75 kilometers running.
She left the track 14 seconds ahead of the Swiss quartet and in the end not only secured the World Cup coup for the German team, but also the Olympic qualification for Paris 2024. A nice side effect of the coup. “I was so inspired by the performances of the other three and wanted to go full throttle,” said Lindemann. New Zealand came in second ahead of Switzerland.
For Lindemann it is the second medal of these title fights in Hamburg: She had already won bronze in the super sprint on Saturday. The 27-year-old from Potsdam finished behind world champion Cassandre Beaugrand from France and Britain’s Beth Potter; Annika Koch and Marlene Gomez-Göggel rounded off the good German result with places four and five.
Tim Hellwig finished eighth in the men’s category. The athlete from Neustadt an der Weinstraße was the only German who had reached the final round of the top ten. Olympic bronze medalist Hayden Wilde from New Zealand won the title ahead of Portuguese Vasco Vilaça and Briton Alex Yee.
Thousands of enthusiastic spectators, a lot of action in a short time – and an unusual challenge for the best triathletes in the world: the young sprint format of the world association ITU was very well received at this World Cup. The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also liked the spectacle on Saturday between the Binnenalster and Rathausmarkt.
“I think the new format has proven itself here,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in an ARD interview. “It’s interesting for the viewers. It is varied. The athletes have obviously embraced it. And the great Hamburg audience is doing its part.”
The spectators experienced three races each for women and men over the super sprint distance of 300 meters swimming, 7.5 kilometers cycling and 1.6 kilometers running on Saturday afternoon. In the eliminator format, ten of the 30 triathletes were eliminated after the first two rounds. The ten best then fought for the title at the end. The day before there had already been qualifying races and repechage rounds to determine the starters for Saturday.
Last year, world championship titles in the sprint were awarded in this format for the first time in Montreal, a year earlier there was a test event in the Canadian city. ITU President Marisol Casado hopes the format may be included in the Olympic program by Brisbane 2032.
However, IOC boss Bach was reticent about an Olympic future for the new format. “Triathlon is one of the few sports that has received an additional discipline thanks to its excellent performance. Now it’s time for a little break. And you can develop the format over time,” said the 69-year-old.
Triathlon has been an Olympic event since 2000. The individual distance consists of a 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike ride and 10 km run. The mixed relay has also been part of the program since the Olympic Games in Tokyo were postponed to 2021.
For the athletes, the demands are special due to the many races within a short period of time. Tim Hellwig spoke of “lactate showers”: “I have to honestly say that this is the hardest format that I have done in triathlon so far,” said the 24-year-old from Neustadt an der Weinstraße.