Triathlon guide - London 2012 Olympic Games
Your complete guide to triathlon ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games
Converted: Athletes with more stamina than Sting compete in the pinnacle of sports multi-tasking.
Confused: Wow, three sports in one day. Middle-aged women do more than that at the gym.
Triathlon - The essential guide
Street cred: One of the fastest-growing sports in the world, thanks mainly to the burgeoning breed of blueberry-chomping professionals embarking on a sponsored slog in the hope it will make them seem more compassionate/interesting/rugged/sexy.
Who’s good? Since it became an Olympic event in 2000, Australia and New Zealand have won most triathlon medals.
Glory hunting potential: GB has never won a triathlon medal but that could all change in London 2012, as former world and current European champion Alistair Brownlee is back to his best.
The basics: An individual, three-event race; triathletes swim 1500m, cycle 40km and then run 1500m to the finish. The two transitions between events are equally important as athletes can lose time changing their gear.
Athlete to watch: Canadian Paula Findlay’s stunning recent displays make her the greatest triple threat at London 2012.
Not to be confused with: An ironman triathlon, which is significantly more gruelling and ends with a full marathon rather than a piddly 1500m.
Almost useless fact: Triathlon's trendiness extends to the celebrity world, with Jennifer Lopez, Anna Kournikova and Pippa Middleton all recently doing one.
As seen in: Precious little fiction, so go for a movie triple to cover each event: dubious teen thriller ‘Swimfan’, followed by the delightful Tour de France animation ‘Triplets of Belleville’ and last, but not least, ‘Chariots of Fire’.
Do say: ‘The two guys at the back of the field appear to be bonking [slang for a sudden loss of energy in triathlons].'
Don't say: ‘The two guys at the back of the field appear to be having sex.'
British Olympic hopeful - Alistair Brownlee
What would your advice be to someone taking up your career?
Make sure you really enjoy training because you’re going to do lots of it – 30 to 35 hours of it a week, most weeks of the year.
What's your favourite London spot or guilty pleasure?
I very rarely go to London as I’m a committed fan of Leeds, but Hyde Park and Richmond Park are nice.
Who’s your Olympics crush?
Yelena Isinbayeva, the pole vaulter.
What goes through your head while competing?
When it’s painful, I just think, ‘Hold on, hold on, keep going – it’s not much further.'
What physical aspect of yourself are you most proud of?
My ability to run – it’s pretty important in my line of work.
What will be unique about a London Olympics?
Beijing had everything thrown at it and it was fantastic, but I think the London Olympics will be a bit more intimate. Things will kind of stop and everyone will get behind it.