British triathlete Beth Potter on Thursday won the first test event of the 2024 Olympics in Paris held on the Seine River, which has been depolluted for the Games. The expectation now is to confirm that the athletes will not have health problems after swimming in the place – two weeks ago, the open water swimming test was canceled due to poor sanitary conditions.
Leader in the dispute for the women’s world, Potter beat the French Cassandre Beaugrand, runner-up, in this repetition of what should happen in less than a year at the Olympics, including two laps of a course on the Seine – between the Alexandre 3º and Alma bridges . The Olympic triathlon format consists of 1,500 meters of swimming, 40 km of cycling and 10 km of running.
The competition was a test for both the athletes and the organization of the Olympic Games. The city of Paris reported that the “unprecedented collective mobilization to improve the waters” of the river, which crosses the city from east to west, “was rewarded”. Current number 1 in the world and Olympic and world runner-up, the British Georgia Taylor-Brown is injured in the calf and did not participate.
Until Sunday (20), the 65 best triathletes in the world will compete in qualification tests for the Games. On Wednesday (16), the water quality returned to a “satisfactory threshold”, explained the prefecture of Paris, specifying that the level of escherichia coli –a bacterium found in faeces– had dropped below the maximum regulatory limit (1,000 CFU per 100 ml). Water quality control will be daily during the four days of competition, with laboratory analyzes and instant measurement tools.
Works to secure the Games
Until Paris 2024, the Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games counts on the entry into operation of the Austerlitz basin, which will store rainwater to avoid contamination and allow the whole world to see the athletes swimming in the Seine, even in case of bad weather.
In addition to the rigorous discipline for training, triathlon athletes have to face water in conditions that are often deplorable. Pollution, rats, garbage and bacteria are some of the problems that often end up threatening the health of athletes. According to a report by “Le Monde”, 57 athletes fell ill after a stage of the world championship in Sunderland, in the United Kingdom – including the champion, Frenchman Pierre Le Corre.
A few days after the competition, on-site water tests showed that levels of escherichia coli were 39 times higher than normal.
Best in the world in Paris
Only four athletes from the world’s top 20 men’s and women’s will be absent from testing in Paris. The highlights of the competitions will be the two Olympic champions, the Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt and the Bermudian Flora Duffy, who will be at the start on the Alexandre 3º bridge.
Since winning the title in Tokyo in 2021, Blummenfelt has focused on Ironman, long-distance triathlon trials. His level, in a race with the same characteristics as that of the Olympics, will be observed by his opponents in Paris, in a shorter distance, when he may lack a little speed. Briton Alex Yee, New Zealander Hayden Wilde, Australian Matthew Hauser and Frenchman Pierre Le Correja have all won in previous seasons of world competitions.
After the paratriathlon events on Saturday (19), France, Norway and Great Britain will compete for victory on Sunday (20) in the mixed relay of the World Championship.
(With information from AFP)