By Tom Degun

Triathlon mixed_relay_4_29_AugustAugust 29 - Marisol Casado, President of the International Triathlon Union (ITU), has called for a triathlon mixed relay to feature at the Rio 2016 Olympics to offer athletes more than one opportunity to compete at the Games.

Star athletes Jonathan Brownlee and Lisa Nordén, both London 2012 individual medallists, have added their voices to Casado's call.

The sport proved hugely popular at London 2012 when Britain's Alistair Brownlee and Switzerland's Nicola Spirig won gold in the men's and women's races, respectively – the only two medal events on the triathlon programme.

Many of those who competed in Hyde Park returned to action to represent their countries in the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships in Stockholm on Sunday (August 26), which was won for a second consecutive year by a British team containing Jonathan Brownlee, the Olympic bronze medallist.  

The mixed relay sees two women and two men each competing in a "super-sprint" format before tagging their next team-mate.

After its huge success in Sweden, Casado, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, believes the sport should be included at the next Olympics.

Triathlon mixed_relay_11_29_AugustJonathan Brownlee (second left), one of the victorious British team in Stockholm, supports the call for an Olympic mixed relay event

"We have seen at London 2012 the huge popularity of the sport," she told insidethegames.

"But, unlike many other sports, our athletes only have one chance to compete in front of the fans, and that is a shame.

"The mixed triathlon relay is great for the fans and this past weekend in Stockholm we witnessed one of the most exciting mixed relay competitions to date.

"We are delighted how athletes, national federations and spectators have supported both this event and ITU's bid to have it [included] in the Olympic Games."

The Spaniard explained: "It promotes gender equality with men and women competing on the same playing field at the same time, the dynamic format won't affect triathlon's existing athlete quota and it requires no additional costs to a Games budget as the same venue from the individual competition can be used."

Despite cold and wet conditions in Stockholm, huge crowds turned up to watch 23 teams cross swords with Britain taking the team honours ahead of silver medallists France and third-placed Russia.

Jonathan Brownlee has backed the event to appear on the Olympic programme.

Marisol Casado_1_29_AugustITU chief Marisol Casado is keen for the triathlon mixed relay to be part of Rio 2016

"It's a very exciting event to take part in," he said.

"It would be great if we could get it into the Olympics as well.

Sweden's Olympic silver medallist Nordén also threw her support behind the format.

"It's a super-exciting event to watch," she said.

"To make more stars of the future athletes like us need more medals [to aim for].

"It's a great opportunity."

The mixed relay made its major Games debut at the inaugural Singapore 2010 Youth Olympics and will be contested at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Games, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and the  Incheon 2014 Asian Games.

However, the IOC Executive Board will ultimately decide whether or not to include the event at Rio 2016 when it meets next year.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
August 2012: Brownlee the hero as Britain retain mixed relay world title
May 2012: Glasgow 2014 unveil sports programme with triathlon mixed relay set to debut at Commonwealth Games
December 2011: Triathlon and triathlon mixed relay to become part of 2015 Arab Games
November 2011: Stockwell excited to see triathlon mixed relay at Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games
July 2011: Team triathlon hopes for Rio 2016 receive Asian Games boost