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Media Boat Blocks Triathlon Racers, Forcing An Unusual Restart In Tokyo

Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt celebrates as he crosses the line to win the men’s triathlon at the Tokyo Olympics. Blummenfelt won after a miscommunication between a media boat and the starting officials caused a rare false start in the endurance race.

Adam Pretty/Getty Images


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Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Media Boat Blocks Triathlon Racers, Forcing An Unusual Restart In Tokyo

Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt celebrates as he crosses the line to win the men’s triathlon at the Tokyo Olympics. Blummenfelt won after a miscommunication between a media boat and the starting officials caused a rare false start in the endurance race.

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

The racers stood ready, primed to dive into Tokyo Bay to start the men’s Olympic triathlon. A camera aboard a media boat captured the moment as the start time neared — and unfortunately, it kept capturing the moment after the official start signal blared. Roughly half of the 51 competitors sprang into the water, but the rest were blocked from diving in by the position of the boat, forcing a very unusual false start.

It’s the first time the triathlon, an endurance race that lasts nearly two hours, has ever had a false start in the Olympics, according to NBC. “Invalid start,” the official race report reads.

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As video of Monday’s event shows, the media boat was reversing across the front of the starting pontoon at Odaiba Marine Park, panning across the athletes’ faces as they readied themselves for the race.

When the start signal rang out, the boat’s captain attempted to quickly get out of the way, but to no avail. Race officials’ boats had to rush out over the water to stop the large group of triathletes who had started on their 1,500-meter swim.

The triathlon started in earnest about four minutes after its planned start time, according to the official race report. After the competitors regrouped, Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt won the gold medal in the swim-bike-run event in 1:45:04, edging Great Britain’s Alex Yee by 11 seconds. New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde followed up with the bronze medal.

The false start did nothing to dampen the excitement of Blummenfelt, 27, who celebrated as he broke through the elaborate tape at the finish line.

“I wanted a medal, obviously I preferred the gold medal, everything else I would have been disappointed with,” he said, according to the Olympics’ official blog. “So I’m just extremely relieved to have it around my neck now.”

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