Mixed relay makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo, joining the mixed 4x400m relay in track and the mixed medley relay in swimming as new Olympic mixed-gender events. The fast, tactical and spectator-friendly race showcases thrilling draft-legal racing that often comes down to a final sprint to the finish line.
The mixed relay competition is unlike a triathlon relay at a local, age group race where three athletes combine to finish the race (one person swims, another bikes, another runs). Instead, in the mixed relay format, every athlete completes an entire mini-triathlon before tagging off to the next athlete. Each country’s team is made up of two men and two women, with the order as: female/male/female/male. At the Olympics, each athlete will complete a super sprint triathlon of a 300m swim, 8K bike, and 2K run — which takes around 20 minutes total — before tagging the next athlete. Strategy and short-course speed are key to these events.
This relatively new discipline began in 2009 when the first World Championships were held in Des Moines, Iowa. A year later the mixed relay made its debut at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, and in 2017, it was announced that the mixed relay would make its Olympic Games debut at Tokyo 2020.
Last year, the U.S. earned silver at the Mixed Relay World Championships in Hamburg, Germany, continuing a streak of strong performances in the event. The U.S. won the 2016 world title, earned the 2017 world silver medal and 2018 world bronze. The U.S. team also took bronze in 2019 at the Tokyo World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series event, which was held on the Tokyo Olympic course at Odaiba Marine Park. Each of the world championship medals, as well as the Tokyo test event, were achieved with a different combination of U.S. athletes. France — winners of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 world titles — comes to Tokyo as the medal favorite. Expect a fun, fast and furious race.