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WATCH: Top triathlon moments from the 2016 Rio Olympics

Gwen Jorgensen won triathlon gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Kirby Lee

WATCH: Top triathlon moments from the 2016 Rio Olympics

Triathlon at the Rio 2016 Olympics saw historic wins

Even though there are only two triathlon events at a given Olympics (one for men, one for women), the amount of incredible moments far exceeds the number of races.

The triathlon is one of the most intense endurance races at the Olympics - and in sport. Kicking off with a 1.5km swim (approximately .93 of a mile), triathletes then bolt out of the water to bike 40km (approximately 24.8 miles). They then dismount their bikes and run 10km (approximately 6.2 miles) to the finish line.

Though it's not required, athletes generally collapse (at least temporarily) immediately after they clock an official time.

Adding to the drama: Transition periods factor into the overall race time. Therefore, triathletes must train to mount their bikes and slip into and out of their shoes as quickly and efficiently as possible. 


The men's race took place on a muggy Thursday morning. As soon as the horn blared, 55 triathletes ran and dolphin dived into the ocean off Fort Copacabana. The swimmers quickly divided into three squadrons. Slovakia's Richard Varga held the lead and won the leg in 17 minutes and 18 seconds.

London 2012 bronze medalist Jonathan Brownlee and London 2012 gold medalist Alistair Brownlee - brothers from Great Britain who were medal favorites ahead of the Rio race - exceled in the bike portion, passing by numerous competitors. But Varga still led the other triathletes, completing the bike section in 1:13:17.
Headed into the race's third section, the British siblings took command. They quickly broke away from the rest of the pack, but still remained neck-and-neck with one another. Eventually, older brother Alistair blasted past Jonathan. The London gold medalist slowed as he approached the finish line, then gripped the tape and fell to the ground, depleted. When Jonathan finished moments later, he also dropped to the pavement and embraced his sibling.
The men's medal ceremony was something of a family affair.
The women's race took place on a cooler Saturday. Again, triathletes rushed from the beach and directly into the ocean.
Spain's Carolina Routier made it through the swim first, finishing the first leg in 19:01. 
A number of triathletes swapped leads while biking. Sweden's Lisa Norden ended that portion before anyone else in 1:21:28.
It was during the bike segment that one potential medal favorite - the United States' Sarah True, who finished fourth in the event at the London 2012 Games - was forced to cut her race short. The American apparently suffered a leg injury while swimming, causing her to withdraw from the competition in the middle of the second section.
The last chunk of the women's triathlon - the run - saw the United States' Gwen Jorgensen just inches behind Switzerland's London 2012 gold medalist Nicola Spirig. With just about a mile to go, Jorgensen zipped past her Swiss rival and finished in 1:57:01. Known for her typically tranquil demeanor, the Wisconsin native broke into tears.
In a post-race interview, a highly emotional Jorgensen discussed her race thanked her support crew.

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