It started on the beaches of Mission Bay, Calif., when 46 people paid $1 each to participate in the first ever triathlon. Since that day, triathlon has grown into an Olympic sport and one that millions around the world enjoy. On September 25, 2014, triathlon celebrates 40 years and USA Triathlon celebrates what made the first 40 years.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Those who helped build triathlon talk about the growth of the sport and their favorite moments from the first 40 years.
DAVE SCOTT ON THE EARLY BUD LIGHT U.S. TRIATHLON SERIES
"It was the first U.S. Triathlon Series race in San Diego in 1982. At the time we were trying to figure out how to do the transitions. There weren't any rules established. Everyone kind of agreed we would go from the swim into transition and strip down into our cycling gear. A number of spectators commented they really enjoyed that first triathlon and especially watching the transition area."
TIM YOUNT ON LAUNCHING OF TEAM USA
“It was incredible to think what it would it mean for an age-group athlete to represent the U.S. at a triathlon. This is what that did. There wasn’t a lot of differentiating between elite and age-group athletes back then.”
JON BEESON ON PARATRIATHLON BEING ADDED TO THE PARALYMPIC GAMES
“When we got in, it was a flood of emotions. There were several competitors (up for inclusion in Rio). All of that hard work had finally paid off and to see it get to the big dance was emotionally draining.”
JON GRAY NOLL ON GROWTH OF THE SPORT AND USA TRIATHLON
“It’s like seeing your own child mature and grow and succeed. It’s really very exciting to see. It’s well taken care of now with literally millions of people doing this worldwide.”
VERNE SCOTT ON THE GROWTH OF TRIATHLON
“Some of us that have been engaged with the development anticipated it was going to grow. I did my first triathlon in 1976 and at that time there were very few around. By 1979 you could tell it was going to really increase in size.”
BRAD LEONARD ON ESTABLISHING FIVE-YEAR AGE GROUPS
“Before the effort toward standardization of five-year age groups by Tri-Fed (USA Triathlon), events were all over the map with regard to age groups. The purpose was to level the playing field and offset the affects of aging so people had incentives to stay in the sport. Winning one’s age group adds a recognition, bragging rights and fun to the competition.”
FLO BRYAN ON THE EARLY BUD LIGHT U.S TRIATHLON SERIES
"My favorite moment was the first year the Bud Light U.S. Triathlon Series was also the Tri-Fed Championship. It was thee event that you had to qualify for. The championship was televised on ESPN showcasing the nation's best athletes as well as the pros. It helped position triathlon as a major sport on its way to being an Olympic sport."
“We knew with the number of races we had it was important to set up a system. We spent months and months creating a system and when they hit they were huge because it was a ranking that pulled people from all over. It showed that we as an organization could create benefit that people found tangible.”
SALLY EDWARDS ON EQUAL PRIZE MONEY FOR MEN AND WOMEN
“I am fairly certain we were the first National Governing Body to promote equality for men and women. A sanctioned race by Tri-Fed there would be no gender discrimination. That set the standard that men and women were equal in sports. It’s a landmark moment for a sport’s organization in the early 1980s to come out with the fact that we would be promoting gender equality.”