The Leader: Marisol Casado

Marisol Casado, IOC (International Olympic Committee) Member and President of the ITU (International Triathlon Union), writes exclusively for SportBusiness International about the battle for Olympic survival.

We are facing a very important moment in the history of the Olympic Movement. From the ITU point of view it is challenging, but in a very positive way. We are campaigning for the possibility of having a new medal [mixed-team relay] at the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo, and we are also involved in the plans set out by [IOC president] Thomas Bach and discussions around his Olympic Agenda 2020.

We love to evolve. We wanted to have the mixed-team relay included in the 2016 programme, but even though we couldn’t quite get it in there, triathlon being part of the conversation for the future of the Olympic Movement is very positive.

The fact that we already have the mixed-team relay event in the Pan American Games, Commonwealth Games and other major events means that if we don’t get it in the Olympics, I feel it will be because we haven’t talked about it enough. However, even if we don’t get it into Tokyo, we are still being very successful with our growth. The ITU is very proud to be in the Olympic Games and we are a young sport that is growing really fast.

The values that mixed team relay brings to our sport are huge. Camaraderie comes through, which is great in an individualist sport like ours, and it is also a great way to promote women triathletes. While we can say we have a better gender balance than other sports, we still have more men than women taking part in our sport, so we need to get more women involved.

My country [Spain] has the best male triathletes in the world, but it is not the same with the women. We need to invest to get more women involved.

Maternal Instincts

I feel like a mother to our athletes, and I feel they should get greater recognition; they deserve a greater profile, and this is something we really need to work on.

Having seen what happened with the Brownlees [Alistair and Jonny, 2012 Olympic gold and silver medallists, respectively] in Britain, we want to replicate that with our other athletes, and the Brownlees have been a real case study for us to use in the future.

You have to understand how much our triathletes train, so it is not easy to take them out of that routine and do things for us. However, we have developed good relationships with their coaches and they can tell us what is realistic in terms of media and commercial work that can fit in with their training commitments.

Paralympic Challenge

I was really astonished when we were told that the paratriathlon was going into Rio 2016. Almost immediately I saw the impact in my own country as they started to ask me to take part in seminars on how inclusive paratriathlon is.

We are investing a lot into this project. It is very complicated as we have to classify the paratriathletes into different categories into three disciplines – and I don’t know how it is going to happen – but I can tell you that we will definitely be ready for our Rio 2016 paratriathlon test event next year.

It’s also important to say that we have had no complaints from our triathlon family about the investment in something like this, as I know that is not the case with other international federations, where you sometimes have disputes about channelling Olympic revenues into Paralympic budgets.


Unfinished Business

For us, the competition schedule for Rio 2016 is the only outstanding issue for the next Olympics. You have to understand that for us we only have four hours in the entire Olympic TV schedule – we have an excellent relationship with the OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) and we ask them to tell us the best time to have on the schedule.

From the OBS point of view, our sport can give some of the best views of the whole Olympics

There are so many practical issues to consider such as things like the traffic in the city – which we had issues with in London – so we analyse this very carefully. We don’t want to be on at the same time as the 100-metres or the final of the basketball, so we are keen to avoid a clash with them and there are also other considerations, such as not being on too early in the morning and the temperature. From the OBS point of view, our sport can give some of the best views of the whole Olympics, as you get to see the whole city, and in Rio the helicopter will get shots as it comes off Sugarloaf Mountain 

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