Olympic triathlon relay: does it affect the individual tri event?

The International Triathlon Union has fought persistently and successfully to add the mixed team relay to the Olympic programme and a third gold medal to triathlon’s lot.

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The greater showcase is welcome. The International Olympic Committee, while not currently in the habit of axing sports, has needed some persuasion to retain modern pentathlon and wrestling on its roster in recent years, so improving the popularity of tri through the two-woman, two-man contest helps further weave it into the fabric of the Games. 

Having been showcased in Commonwealth competition and become increasingly commonplace on the World Triathlon Series, it has few detractors, but what the format receives in plaudits, it also lacks in scrutiny. The mixed relay only works if it serves to complement the main event – yet there are warning signs that it might just undermine it.