The Story of the Closest Olympic Triathlon Finish Ever | Olympics on the Record

The Story of the Closest Olympic Triathlon Finish Ever | Olympics on the Record


You see a lot of close finishes
in the sprints. 100m, 200m, the hurdles, it’s in the nature of sprinting that victory is won
by tiny margins. Fans love it. Kids these days,
always on their phones. Hm, what? For sprinters, microseconds are
their business, their currency. For them, one tenth of a second in the 100m final is an
eternity. It’s all a matter of
proportion. You don’t see many dead-heats
in the marathon. But there was one long-distance
race, lasting two hours, which really did come down
to the wire. As you’ll see, we’re talking
close, really close. The triathlon has quickly
become one of the iconic events of the summer Games following
its introduction in 2000. It comes in three sections.
The swimming. The cycling. And the run. To spice it up, it has awkward
little transition sections where so often the race
is won or lost. It’s an event virtually
designed to smash the field, to scatter the competitors into one thin line of
athletic torment. The previous Olympic Women’s
event was won by well over a minute. No photo required. The Women’s Triathlon
at London 2012 was different. Here are the two athletes
to look out for. Lisa Norden of Sweden and Nicola Spirig of
Switzerland. You can barely see them
in the swimming section because neither of them counts
it as their best discipline. There are some very good
swimmers in here, as we say, look out for Great Britain’s Lucy Hall,
who’s wearing 8. She will more than likely
take Vicky Holland with her. Lucy Hall of Great Britain
emerged from the water with a handsome lead. Spoiler alert –
Hall would finish 33rd. It’s a cruel sport. The split times tell us
that Norden and Spirig complete the swimming events
in exactly the same time. The Swiss Spirig considers
the cycling her top event. She’s awesome on the bike, quickly making up time lost
on the swim. But Norden is having
a good race, she feels strong,
matching Spirig in her strongest
discipline. Well, here they come back
towards transition. Here comes Nicola Spirig. It comes down to the run. The final 10K of an Olympic
triathlon is a thing of wonder, athletes pushing themselves
to the limit, with unbelievable reserves of
energy and determination. Spirig has both, and puts herself in prime
position for the final section. She is flying. And looking at some of
the runners in that field, the likes of Nicola Spirig, this could literally come down to a sprint finish for
the three medals. She holds off the Australian,
Erin Densham. But, try as she might, she cannot not shake off
her Swedish rival. Lisa Norden – is this going
to be her day? Here they come.
It is a sprint finish. It’s all come down to this. Two hours of racing, Nicola Spirig and Lisa Norden,
it would appear. The Australian has gone. Spirig, look…look
for the Norwegian, the big, long
strides of hers, and she’s eating into
the Swiss. Look at this, nothing between
them as they go into the tape. Dead heat. Densham bronze,
while Spirig and Norden have to wait for the judges to examine photographic
evidence. Even now it’s hard to judge. Eventually, a decision is made, the same time for Spirig
and Norden. The same time to within
one-hundredth of a second but Nicola Spirig wins,
by a whisker. It hasn’t sunk in yet, it’s… I don’t think I really
realise that I’m Olympic Champion now but it’s amazing,
it’s just amazing. It’s been a lot of ups and
downs, and this is amazing. I had so many injuries leading
up to this and I never thought I’d get it together and running
in the last ten laps, I felt amazing and I realised I could
probably get a medal and actually up until the last
couple of metres… It’s really amazing. The photo suggests victory
by the tiniest of margins, maybe two centimetres,
to be generous. That’s over a race that’s
51.5 million centimetres long. You’ve already worked that out
as a percentage, right? So, if, say, this was
a 100m sprint it’s the equivalent of winning
by a margin so slim it’s almost beyond human
detection. 38.8 micrometres,
to be precise. The diameter of a typical human
hair is about 50 micrometres, less than a hair’s breadth! You could watch
1,000 triathlons, 1,000 races and never see
a finish as close as that.

100 Replies to “The Story of the Closest Olympic Triathlon Finish Ever | Olympics on the Record”

  1. So glad triathlons are in the Olympics. Does anyone know why we don't have cross country running or "mixed doubles" track relays (2 men and 2 women running a 4×100)?

  2. i remember watching this and thinking that the Swiss looked like she was going to drop in the run. It was agony just watching this – let alone running it. This is PAIN!!

  3. That is why I swim, this would never happen in a race. I have been beaten by one one hundreth of a second and I knew straight away.

  4. i think the rule should state the maximum precision on the time, imo 0.001 is sufficient. if can't even a thousandth second tells the difference, then it's a draw. I mean you can go on till the N-th decimal if you want to make the person the winner, length of a hair? seriously? it's not as if there's never a joint-winner in sports. Otherwise change the technology, infrared sensor or laser or whatever, not the final call from judges after the so called behind the scene investigation.

  5. No the distance doesn’t matter, it’s a different race each time because they would stick with a group if one ran ahead they might win and might fall back

  6. Torso across the line is what stops the clock. The finish tape is the final measure of who wins. Used as a last resort when everything else shows a dead heat. The Swiss woman barely hit the tape before the Swede. Amazing that a race of such a long distance could end up with a finish so close.

  7. I would say the woman in the black one because she actually touched the ribbon first. it was a dead tie when they actually crossed the line itself so i say go to the next best thing. Also, her foot was down a millisecond before the other. she won.

  8. No i could tell spirig won because i have good vision and from the back view camera of the finish its obivious who won (well at least to me )

  9. I saw Spirig's foot hit the ground first before Norden…
    Watch and pause frame by frame (or change to 0.25 speed if you like) and watch carefully at 3:41
    I know this ain't gonna change history but hey, just sayin

  10. Olympic Triathlon is just stupid. The 3 sports are totaly unbalanced. Mainly you have to be a good runner and swim decent enough to come out of the water with the other good runners…
    And I would not agree that Spirig's best is the bike. She used to be a track & field and cross country runner before switching to triathlon (Swiss 5k champ 2009). So I would argue, her strongest discipline is the runing…

  11. Cycling races can be just as tight. They can race over 100 miles over 5 or 6 hours and the winner often wins by the width of a tire. Most big pro races have special technology that can detect close finishes like that.

  12. You could say “a triathlon is sooo long what a coincidence they finished in a near identical fashion.” But if you think abt it as a marathon, cuz they finish the cycling around the same time. Also they pushed each other to pass the other in the sprint finish… if they had been running without knowledge of the other’s position it might not have been so close.

  13. I'm Swiss but I feel for Norden. Was one of the most exciting things I've seen in live sport ever. Norden took it all the way to CAS cos they were given same time – therefore her case was: same time for a race of that length = share of gold. But CAS ruled something like that was the award on the day so there was no case to overule that decision as it wasn't technically incorrect. (i.e. they couldn't see if Norden had touched first) so the result stood. [CAS = Court of Arbitration for Sport – based in Lausanne, Switzerland :)]

  14. If you actually look at it really closely and at 0.25 speed you can see that its acrually Sweden that won, but hey, they probably wasn't able to spot it before, and well, this is the past, nothing can be changed. Good job to both of them though XD

    Edit: try watching at 0.25 at 4:58

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