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The history of Triathlon

The word “Triathlon” was first used in 1904, during the Olympic Games, when the sport of Triathlon made its first appearance, consisting of high jump, shot put and 100 meter race.
On September 4, 1921, a swimming club in Marseilles (France) hosted an event called “The three sports game” that consisted of a 7 km. cycling round, a 5 km. race and a 200 m. swimming race. Lulu Helmet was the winner of that competition.
In 1934 an event was held at La Rochelle, where the athletes swam 200 m. in order to cross the channel, cycled 10 km., covering the distance between the harbor and La Rochelle, and ran 1.200 m. in the stadium.
In 1972, David Pain held the first multi-sport event in the United States, in order to celebrate his 50th anniversary. It was a race of two sports, running and swimming, held in  San Diego, California.
The 25th of September in 1974 is a significant date for Triathlon.
The San Diego Track Club published the following notice, due to the initiative of Jack Johnstone and Dan Shanahan:
The notice described the event: 6 miles running, 5 miles cycling and 500 metres swimming. Two miles of running will be carried out without shoes, on lawn and sand. At the end, it mentioned: “Every contestant must bring his own bicycle”. The word Triathlon was written on every trophy, following the convention used in naming of similar sports, “Pentathlon”, “Decathlon”. 46 participants entered this event and, when it got dark –because the race took place in the afternoon- the cars directed their light on the sea so that the swimming race could be carried out.

Running course in the first Triathlon race in San Diego
January 1977, in Hawaii, a U.S. Navy Commander, John Collins, challenged long distance athletes to compete in a race combining swimming, cycling and running. At that time the greater long distance races existing in Hawaii were the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (4,8 km.), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (18o km) and the Hawaii Marathon. Collins suggested that the event should include all three races and that the first one to finish should be called “Ironman” and be awarded with an iron statuette.
The first race of that kind was held on the 18th of February in 1978, and 12 out of the 15 contestants completed it. That is where Gordon Haller made history as the first athlete completing the Ironman race in 11 hours, 46 minutes and 58 seconds.
In March 1979 a ten page article dedicated to the Hawaii Ironman raised the number of participants to 108.
In 1980 ABC Channel started to broadcast the Ironman races attracting publicity which reached its peak in 1982, when spectators all over the world watched Julie Moss dragging her feet while trying to complete the last metres of the race and finish first. The term “Triathlon” was recognized as a word in August 1983, when it was included in the 9th edition of the Webster Dictionary.
Ironman was finally consolidated in 1986, when an anonymous sponsor offered a prize of 100,000 dollars won by Dave Scott for men and Paula Newby-Fraser for women.
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) was founded in the spring of 1989 in Avignon, France. Les McDonald was elected president of the Union. According to the statute, paragraph 1.1, these are its goals:

  • Support the ideals, aims and principles of the Olympic movement and ensure the admission of the sport in the Olympic Games.
  • Promote and develop the sport of Triathlon, Duathlon and the relevant multi sports all over the world.
  • Serve the interest of national federations.
  • Help the national federations get organised and be acknowledged by the national Olympic Committees and the national councils/confederations.

During August of the same year the first national championship is  held in Avignon, with distances of 1,5k-40k- 10k. In September 1994 it was decided that Triathlon will be included for the first time in the programme of the Olympic Games in Sidney, Australia.
Since then, Triathlon has been flourishing on a worldwide level and has become one of the most popular sports, rapidly evolving as a movement all around the world.

In 1996 the Greek Federation of Amateur Triathlon is founded, while in 1999 the Greek Federation of Triathlon is acknowledged as an official body.
Triathlon has created a tradition of its own in our country, progressing and obtaining many victories at an international level.
In 2000, in Sidney, where Triathlon enters the Olympic Games for the first time we qualified for the finals thanks to our country’s top athlete Vassilis Krommydas!
In 2004, Vassilis was once represented Greece at the Athens Olympic Games.
In 2012 distinction comes from a woman. The top Triathlon athlete of all time Denise Dimaki qualifies for the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
In 2007, she came 3rd in the European Duathlon Championship that took place in Serres, while she had already come 2nd that year in the European Ranking (thanks to her winning many European Cups), with Vassilis Krommydas as her coach.

The present administration of the Greek Triathlon Federation, successfully continues its effort for development and progress under its President Mr.Georgios Gerolymbos

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