Athens, 2004: Austria's Kate Allen was the surprise winner of the women's event. At the end of the triathlon's first leg -- the swim -- Allen was in 44th place. But with a strong bike performance over a difficult 40km course, she worked her way up to 12th going into the run, two minutes, 52 seconds behind leader Loretta Harrop of Australia. Allen made up the difference over the 10km run, passing Harrop in the final meters of the race. Allen finished with a time of 2:04:43.45 -- seven seconds ahead of Harrop.
Athens, 2004: From the outset of the women's event, it appeared the race for gold would be a battle between Australia's Loretta Harrop and three U.S. women, Sheila Taormina, Barb Lindquist and Susan Williams. Harrop and Taormina emerged from the 1.5km swim tied for first place, closely followed by Lindquist and Williams. Harrop and Taormina remained locked together in the lead for most of the bike leg with Lindquist and Williams in close pursuit. But in the run, both Taormina and Lindquist faded, allowing Williams, the least heralded American, to win bronze.
Athens, 2004: The men's event saw Kiwis reach the top of the podium with Hamish Carter of New Zealand besting compatriot Bevan Docherty. Docherty led Cater by seven seconds after the 1.5km swim, but Carter made up the difference and opened a five-second lead after the 40km bike ride and never looked back. Sven Riederer of Switzerland took home the bronze. Simon Whitfield of Canada, the gold medallist in Sydney, finished 11th.
Sydney, 2000: A triathlon race began in Olympic waters for the first time as 50 wet-suit-clad competitors in the women's competition dove into Sydney Harbour for the first leg of the multi-discipline event. The men's competition debuted the following day. The inaugural Olympic triathlon came just 26 years after the first organized swim-bike-run event was held in San Diego, California. By 1986, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded, and the first world championships were held in Avignon, France.
Sydney, 2000: In the first Olympic women's triathlon, American Sheila Taormina, who competed in swimming at the 1996 Games, predictably led after the opening leg. But Australian favorite Michellie Jones, backed by an exuberant hometown crowd and helped by a quick transition from bike to run, had a narrow advantage to start the footrace for gold. On the final lap, in the shadow of Sydney's Opera House, Switzerland's Brigitte McMahon shadowed Jones. With a stirring final sprint, McMahon pulled away to win by 2.03 seconds. Another Swiss, Magali Messmer finished well back in third.
Sydney, 2000: With an estimated 300,000 spectators lining the course, Canada's Simon Whitfield became the first Olympic men's triathlon champion by surging past Germany's Stephan Vuckovic in the final 250 meters of the run. Prior to this victory, Whitfield never placed higher than seventh in a major world-class event. Four-time world champion Simon Lessing of Great Britain and reigning world champion Olivier Marceau of France were in good position throughout the swim and cycling legs, but faded in the run, opening the door for Whitfield's unexpected victory.
Sydney, 2000: Expectations ran high for host Australia in the first Olympic triathlon competition. Its women won the five previous world titles, as well as every race held on the Sydney course leading up to the Games. The men's team experienced recent success, which, combined with the home advantage, led some Down Under to envision an Australian sweep of the medals. But in the end, the only Aussie medallist was Michellie Jones, who took silver in the women's event.