The triathlon is lost in the water (1,500m), it is fought on the bike (40 kilometers) and it is won in the running race (10 kilometers). It does not fail. Mario Mola, Javier Gómez Noya and Fernando Alarza came out of the water together; 43 seconds behind the leading group, that of the favorites. That forced them to push hard on the bike section to hook up with the best. And they finally finished tenth (Mola, at 1m 09s); the 12th (Alarza, at 1m 18s) and the 25th (Gómez-Noya, at 2m 42s). The podium was far away. The gold went to the Norwegian Kristian Blummenfelt (1h 45m 04s), who entered the finish line putting his hands to his head, incredulous, and ended up vomiting squatting, from the effort, from the heat, from the beating of swimming 1.5 kilometers, cycling 40 kilometers and running 10 kilometers under a scorching sun. Not so much, say the triathletes, as in the previous days.Silver went to English Alex Yee (at 11s) and bronze to New Zealander Hayden Wilde (at 20s).
"I am very frustrated not only by today's result, but by all the work I have done to get here, which had been very hard to get the best out of it and then it didn't work out," summarized Gómez Noya, who prepared for new weeks in Cozumel (Mexico) to get used to the race conditions of the Odaiba circuit.
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It was strange to see him so off the hook in the water; swimming is one of Gómez Noya's best transitions. This was explained by the 38-year-old Galician in the mixed zone, 15 minutes after finishing one of the most demanding tests of these Games. “I did not feel well at any time, I had bad feelings from the beginning, with a very complicated swimming, with many strokes and losing a lot of time. On the bike we had to work a lot to hook the lead group, which we managed to do, but honestly I have never had good feelings or good legs ”. Paris2024 is close, but Gómez Noya would arrive at the next Olympic event at the age of 41, so this Monday could have been his last Olympic participation. Silver in London 2012, he missed the Rio Games, which he was a favorite,due to an injury a few weeks before traveling to Brazil. He had between eyebrows Tokio2020, because the only gold that is missing in his palm is the Olympic one.
"I have performed below my level"
Today, with 21, his race number, painted on his arm and a bottle of water in his hand, without showering yet, he says he is frustrated because it is hard to prepare well for a race and not be able to perform. “When you work hard for a goal and it doesn't work out on race day, it's hard. But just as you have to know how to manage victories, you also have to know how to manage defeats. I couldn't do a better race, I gave what I had today ”. They asked him if the heat had to do with his performance and he answered no. “It was not too hot, the water was not as hot as we expected. Honestly, I did not feel well physically, it was not the heat that brought me down, I was training in worse conditions than these and much faster than today. These have not been particularly harsh conditions ”.
Sometimes when things don't work out, there is no better explanation than your own body gives you. And Gómez Noya repeated several times that his did not respond well. Was it only today? These days, since you arrived in Tokyo, have you felt well? “Honestly no, I have had a little otitis that you never know to what extent it can affect your performance and of course it is not an apology, far from it. In the tests I did training I was at a good level, the times were at my best and today I performed below my usual level ”.
If it is rare to see Gómez Noya so off the hook in swimming, it was even more so to attend a null start in an Olympic triathlon final. At 6.30 in the morning the water was 29.9 degrees, the temperature was 26.7 degrees and the humidity granted a small truce: the clock showed 67.1%. The capital of Japan dawned with clouds, waiting for the typhoon announced for this Tuesday. The triathlon also had its small storm: about 20 athletes, including Mario Mola, jumped into the water without starting to the astonishment of those who were seated in the stands.
With the noise of the helicopters flying over the bay of the Odaiba maritime park - where the Olympic rings are placed - it was impossible to understand anything.
Four waterboats started with whistles and surrounded the group, oblivious to everything, in a mill of strokes and kicks.
It took 100 meters to stop them, get them out of there, from their mistake and return them to the platform so that, this time, the race could start.
Mola and Gómez Noya, among several rivals in the bicycle section.Enric Fontcuberta / EFE
The Spaniards swam together, while Vincent Luis, Jonathan Brownlee, Alex Yee and Henri Schoeman set their pace in the lead. The bike race, eight laps on a narrow circuit between skyscrapers and shopping centers, with the occasional dangerous curve, forced Mola, Gómez Noya and Alarza to a real time trial. They began the bike transition at 43 seconds, cutting to 34 in the second lap, 29 in the third, 18 in the fourth. Finally, they hooked the escapees in the fifth.
“It was a coincidence that we rode together on the bike. I saw Mario and Fernando when they got out of the water, I didn't know that we were so close together. Mario and I tried to collaborate with Iden [Gustav] as much as we could to get back into the lead group, which took us almost 20 kilometers ... and it was 20 very hard kilometers. There we had our options again, but personally I could not, besides not having good legs, the bike took its toll on me ”, explained Gómez Noya. Mola also passed it because after the first (of four) laps in the foot race, the Spaniard lost 20 seconds. He was seen with a heavy stride, not very fluid. Just like his teammates, who were hanging down round after round.
This was explained by Mola, who was eighth in the Rio Games and was chasing his first Olympic medal.
“I am tired, and partly disappointed because I have not been in a position to fight for the medal.
I paid for the effort in the first section of the bike to get back in the race.
It has been demanding and that is reducing energy.
It was difficult for me to find the rhythm in the race on foot ”.
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