Olympic Odyssey: The Men

by World Triathlon Admin on 01 Aug, 2008 12:00

Former World Number one Chris Hill takes us to Beijing through the athletes eyes

This week Olympic Odyssey looks at six male athletes racing the Games in mini profiles, visiting their website diaries for the latest on their Beijing build up.

Tim Don (Great Britain) won the 2006 world championship in Lausanne eight years after he took the junior world title at the same venue. This proves when he is on, like the Tongyeong world cup this year, Don is hard to stop.

Diary quote: I missed the press conference but Im in! My selection for the Olympic Games was announced this morning in Hyde Park. Im going to Beijing, my third Olympics! I was meant to arrive back in the UK first thing this morning and go straight to the press conference but my plane was stuck on the runway in Chicago due to technical issues.

After meeting the selection criteria in Madrid and being nominated, its actually a relief to have the selection confirmed. I knew I was in but couldnt say so until it was officially announced. [Now] it is phase two of the heat acclimatization for Beijing. Ill race National Champs in Bryn Bach on July 26th and then we head to Korea for heat and humidity acclimatization.

Best three 2008 results: 1st Tongyeong world cup, 3rd Mooloolaba world cup, 4th Madrid world cup.

Look for: Don to quietly work his way through the field in the swim and bike sections expending as little energy as possible.  If Don is on in the run he will be in the hunt for a medal. Podium contender.

Hunter Kemper (USA) overcame injury in 2007 to claim the final USA Olympic berth with a courageous sixth place at this years Hy-Vee world cup ahead of the highly talented Andy Potts. He raced at Sydney (17th) and Athens (9th) so experience is on Kempers side if he can get to the start line healthy.

Diary quote: I am so excited about representing the USA again in Beijing this August. The road to making my 3rd Olympic Team has been a very difficult one, but one that I will never forget. I dont know what the outcome is going to be in Beijing for me, but what I do know is that this Olympic Games is going to be different than Sydney (2000) and Athens (2004).

After Athens, I told myself that if I was ever able to get back to another Olympic Games, I would make sure that I walked in the Opening Ceremonies. When speaking to many past Olympians, I always hear that the Opening Ceremonies is one of the best experiences athletes have at the Olympics. I have many wonderful memories from Sydney and Athens, but now Im going to add the Opening Ceremonies to my list of Olympic memories. So on August 8th, at 8:08pm (8 is a lucky number in China can you tell?), look for me walking with Team USA into the stadium during Opening Ceremonies. How are you going to see me on TV? Just look for the guy with the biggest grin on his face!

Best three 2008 results: 3rd Tuscaloosa US Olympic trials, 6th Des Moines world cup, 10th Minnesota Life Time Fitness triathlon.

Look for: Kemper to use his strong all-round abilities to find good position in the swim and bike. Then he will undoubtedly make the best of his troublesome build up on the run. A top-twelve contender.

Courtney Atkinsons (Australia) lead in to the Beijing test event last year was a gamble that paid off as he placed second to world number one Spains Javier Gomez and confirmed his Olympic selection. Likewise, he has opted for a similar preparation for the Games this year and is the dark horse of the field.

Diary quote: As I sit to write there are less than four weeks to go until the Olympic Games Mens Triathlon and only 14 days until the opening ceremony on the 8.8.08. Wow…Ill admit that the reality and excitement of being part of this event is starting to sink in. I have been a bit light on the updates over the past months, but to be honest there hasnt been too much to tell…I have been training, training and more training…and believe me this is not all that exciting to write about.

About the best news I can give is that everything to date in my preparation has gone mostly to plan and I am happy with the shape I am in. I have followed a fairly similar preparation to what I did for the Olympic Test event in 2007, so things feel pretty familiar at this stage. In the more recent weeks I have started my final preparations to get ready to race. Most notably my first and only full triathlon hit out before the games in the heat and humidity of Singapore. I have also had a few fast running races over the 10km distances, although with tired legs, but all still great training.

Best three 2008 results: 1st Singapore Asian cup, 24th Mooloolaba world cup.

Look for: Atkinson, highly talented in all three sports, to be in the mix with 5km of running remaining in Beijing. Top-five contender

Reinaldo Colucci (Brazil) has incredible range as an athlete, racing distances from Olympic to Ironman. This adaptability will be to his benefit in Beijing, as will his ability to race well in the heat.

Diary quote: On July 13th I was in Tiszaujvaros, Hungry for my last race event before Beijing on August 19th! I have been training very well in Switzerland since the beginning of June with all the focus to have the best performance I possible can in the Olympic Games. My race in Tis helped to make my final analyses and to see where I could get some improvement for the next final five weeks!

With a very good 3rd lap I could put myself closer, however, it was not enough time to get there and I needed to be satisfied with one more fifth place in a Word Cup.  I am quite happy. The only reason I know I still can run better than what I did is because I will keep doing exactly the same thing I have done and I will get my performance where I want.

Best three 2008 results: 5th Tiszaujvaros world cup, 6th Richards Bay world cup, 11th Tongyeong world cup.

Look for: Colucci to make up for lost swim time on the bike and use the humid Beijing conditions to his advantage on the run. Top-10 contender.

Chris Felgate (Zimbabwe) is an up-and-coming athlete who is on his first trip to an Olympic Games. He has done plenty of racing in 2008, so it is assured, he will not head to Beijing underdone.

Diary quote: After travelling nearly two full days in a van that had no air-conditioning or windows in the back, we drove into the quaint little town of Pierrelatte for the D2 race in the south of France. The temperature was around the 35 degree mark which was a shock coming from the teens. I found myself in the front pack of runners and after the first lap, one guy surged and I couldnt respond so was content with finishing off in 5th.

Our recovery day was spent climbing Mt Ventoux, a massive climb used in the Tour de France (not this year) and saw us going from 300m to around 1900m in 21km. Gradient went from 6-11%. I am now in the Netherlands, battling the wind and rain, getting the body prepped for the 19th of August.

Best three 2008 results: 4th Belle Mare African cup, 9th Yasmine African championships, 28th Richards Bay world cup.

Look for: Felgate to gain experience in Beijing and improve ahead of London 2012.  Top-30 contender.

Reto Hug (Switzerland) surprised himself with a bronze medal behind Gomez and Athens silver medallist Bevan Docherty (New Zealand) at the Vancouver world championships this year. It was just reward for an athlete who seems to just get better with age.

Diary quote: With almost 40kg excess baggage and without major problems I am now finally here on Jeju Island in South Korea. Although I have often been in Asian countries I am amazed to find something new every time. The first few days, we trained with the Brazilians and got used to the time change.

According to our coaches there should be no intensive sessions on our training plan. But my definition of intensity is a little different than his. So I am already back into my normal training schedule at the 50m pool and the 400m athletics track. Also we got our new Olympic bikes from Cervelo this month. They are white with the five Olympic rings specially made for us. (Translated)

Best three 2008 results: 3rd Vancouver world championships, 4th Tongyeong world cup, 6th Ishigaki world cup.

Look for: Hug, as part of the strong Swiss team with Sven Riederer and Olivier Marceau, to impact the race significantly in Beijing. He is a podium contender.

With that, it is only one week to go to the Opening Ceremony and two (and a bit) to the Olympic Games triathlon. All very exciting indeed.
Check back soon as Hill breaks down the Beijing fields

Click here for the Olympic Odyssey archive and more Beijing news

Former World Number one Chris Hill brings his unique elite athlete perspective in weekly Olympic columns to ITUs website, triathlon.org.  He competed on the ITU World Cup circuit, winning three titles and ten medals in total.  He was crowned the overall World Cup series champion in 2001.  That same year he was silver medalist at the ITU World Championships in Edmonton, Canada.  Watch for Chris Hills column, Olympic Odyssey every week on triathlon.org.

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