Olympic triathlon held up by shocking false start with a BOAT in the way of athletes ready to jump into the water when the gun went to start in Tokyo – with the BBC commentator branding the scene ‘insane’
The men’s Olympic triathlon began in shambolic circumstances as a boat jerked across the water just as some athletes had dived in to start the race.
Half the field dived in while the others were blocked off by a boat, leading to some frantic action from associated craft to get the message over to the initially unaware swimmers.
Fifty-six men lined up on a pontoon in Tokyo Bay for the 06.30 local start but as the starter sent them away for the opening 1,500 metre swim leg, around a third found their way blocked by a camera boat.
The men’s triathlon began in chaotic circumstances after a boat caused a false start
Half the field dived in while the others were blocked off by a boat carrying camera crew
With those left on the pontoon stranded, a mini-flotilla of boats and jet skis flew into action to head off the group, with around half of them still ploughing on regardless despite the alert horn sounding repeatedly.
Eventually two jet skis combined to stop the leaders, who returned slowly to the start having undergone a more vigorous 200 metre warm up than they had expected.
The race got underway safely around 10 minutes later.
Kristian Blummenfelt, who went on to claim gold for Norway, shared his thoughts on the incident and admitted the experience was ‘quite strange’.
‘I saw the boat on the left side and found it quite strange that the starting bell came,’ Blummenfelt said.
‘I felt that the boat was still in front of the left side of the pontoon, so when I jumped in, I thought that this would most likely be pulled back and go for another start.
‘I just tried not to go too slow but keep a little bit left and look at it in a positive way that I actually got a little pre warm up before the start.’
New Zealand’s bronze medallist Hayden Wilde was left deflated after the false start, saying: ‘I have had an absolute blinder of a start here and then realised that half the field wasn’t even in the water. I was pretty gutted.
‘So now we turned back, it was actually quite good if you take it in an immensely positive way.
‘We were waiting around for the start of the line for 25 minutes, so we actually hadn’t been doing any kind of movement.
‘So for me, it was actually great to get 50 metres and full gas and warm the arms up a bit.
‘You just to have to take the positives, restart and reset, just one of those things.’
Television pundits, commentators and viewers were also left stunned at what they had witnessed.
‘I have never seen anything like that before at the start of a triathlon – let alone one at the Olympics. What a shambles,’ said BBC commentator Matt Chilton.
Team GB’s Alex Yee was among the athletes that had already dived in to the water
GB triathlete Non Stanford, speaking from the BBC studio, added: ‘I’ve never seen that – definitely not in the Olympics. Hopefully the guys who did jump in, it didn’t affect their race too much.’
Some viewers, meanwhile, claimed the boats were still too close to the athletes when the race re-started.
‘Those boats need to give the swimmers some space! After a ridiculously dangerous false start, I really hope no one gets hurt. What a shambles!’ wrote one viewer on Twitter.
‘Having caused a false start in the Triathlon, the boat carrying the camera crews has been much too close to the athletes throughout the swim,’ wrote another.
A third viewer added: ‘I know they want good shots but where is the race director to tell them to move back. I’m still in shock about that false start, how there wasn’t injuries. Need a review of this so badly.’