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Some Olympic test events are mere dress rehearsals for what is to come. Others will test the waters in the more literal and revealing sense.
Next week’s triathlon test event in Tokyo is expected to deliver on both fronts. It will act out at the same time and under the same conditions the event being staged at the Olympics in August 2020, starting and finishing in Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo Bay, an urban resort with white sandy beaches overlooked by high-rise waterfront buildings, and the setting for Japan’s National Triathlon Championships for more than 20 years.
After the 1.5km swim in Odaiba Bay, the race will head out on the 40km cycle around the Marine Park and leafy West Promenade district, before finishing with a 10km run in the same setting. As Olympic triathlon venues come it appears idyllic and iconic at the same time.
It will also be properly hot and exhausting, in and out of the water, Japan’s latest heatwave in high summer a reminder of that. It will also carry a warning: the Olympic swim-bike-run event may actually become a shortened swim before the bike-run, or possibly even just a bike-run.
That Carolyn Hayes finds herself on next week’s starting line is both a test and measure of how far she’s come in her triathlon career. As a fully qualified doctor, putting that career on hold last year in order to concentrate all her efforts on qualifying for Tokyo, she fully understands the challenge and risk the heat will present next Thursday and possibly next summer too, if she gets back there. Not that it’s in any way putting her off.
“Everything will be run exactly as it will be on the day of the Olympics,” she says, “and for me to get an invitation is huge, and hopefully another positive step towards Tokyo qualification. Especially with extra qualification points on offer.
“One difference though is that next year, if I do make it, I’ll have had about three weeks to acclimatise. This time I’ll have a few days. And they are already a bit worried about the swim. The water temperature is up around 26, 27 degrees, which is very hot.
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