5 facts that prove triathlon is the most interesting sport at the Olympics


What's your favourite sport at the Olympics? After reading this, it will definitely be triathlon.

As Rio draws ever closer, we're taking a look at each of the Olympic sports in turn. This week, it's the turn of the sport that's actually three sports in one.

1. Jonny Brownlee would probably be conquering the world if it wasn't for his irritating older brother.

Jonny and Alistair Brownlee with their Olympic triathlon medals

Still, Brownlee Jr. can console himself with some family bragging rights. "Ali has no hand-eye co-ordination at all, so I always beat him at table tennis," insisted Jonny. "I beat him at a lot of things actually - except triathlons."

2. As we speak (unless you have chanced upon this page many years later - although it still may apply) a man with a big red beard is completing what he claims to be the world's longest triathlon.

Sean Conway from Gloucester is doing a 3,000-mile bike ride, an 800-mile run and 100-mile swim. He said: "I don't know any better. It's just what I do nowadays."

3. Great news - you can do triathlons and still eat loads.

New York's Yasir Salem is a champion competitive eater who can eat up to 32 hotdogs or 192 chicken wings in five minutes. He is also a keen triathlete. "Some people think that competitive eating and health don't work together but I say otherwise," said Salem. "They are both extreme endurance sports - triathlons, marathons and competitive eating are three things I do well and they work together perfectly." http://www.barcroft.tv/competitive-eating-champion-extreme-sports-champion-triathlon-marathon-new-york-usa

4. Contrary to popular belief, triathlon did not make its Olympic debut at Sydney in 2000.

Competitors in the women's triathlon round the bend of the swimming section in Sydney Harbour

It actually featured at the St Louis Games in 1904 as part of the athletics programme. Athletes were required to complete a relatively leisurely programme of long jump, shot put and 100 yard dash. The gold medal was won by American Max Emmerich, an accountant who was later jailed for five years after being found guilty of embezzlement.

5. Triathlon's ultimate competition - the Ironman - originated one night in Hawaii in 1978.

Boris Stein celebrates winning the Ironman triathlon in Zurich

Stationed US military officers began to argue whether runners, cyclists or swimmers were the fittest, and duly organised an event to determine the ultimate champion, or "Iron Man". All of which seems a rather long-winded way to settle an argument. They could have staged, say, a competitive eating contest instead, and had exactly the same effect.