This weekend sees British Triathlon celebrate its 40th year as the national governing body for swim, bike, run in Britain.
Known as the British Triathlon Association when it was established in 1982, the past 40 years has seen growth in the sport at all levels of participation domestically, and great success for athletes and teams representing Britain around the world.
In recent years, Britain has seen world-leading success, most recently with Dave Ellis and his guide Luke Pollard (PTVI), Kate Waugh (U23) and Connor Bentley (U23) all being crowned elite world champions in Abu Dhabi at the end of November.
This was on top of 17 world champions within the Great Britain Age-Group Team, and elite world silver medals for Georgia Taylor-Brown (women’s), Alex Yee (men’s) and Claire Cashmore (PTS5), and elite world bronze for Alison Peasgood and her guide Brooke Gillies (PTVI).
Speaking about the 40th anniversary of the organisation, British Triathlon CEO Andy Salmon, said:
“Whilst reflecting on the success and growth of the sport in Britain since 1982, it also gives us cause to look to the future and the next 40 years of promoting active lifestyles through swim, bike, run, and of maintaining our success on the international stage.
“As an organisation, we’ve committed to sustainability by signing up to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Sports for Climate Action Declaration and Race to Zero, mandating us to have zero emissions by 2040. These agreements are incredibly important to us as we know swim, bike, run has a role to play in a physically, socially, and environmentally sustainable future.
“Triathlon as a sport and we as an organisation were founded on core principles including gender equality, and that is something that is truly alive today. The mixed relay captivated audiences in Tokyo and at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and is a real marker of what this sport stands for as we head towards Paris and the future of swim, bike, run.”
Events have always been a key driver in triathlon participation and, after the formation of the NGB, the inaugural British Championships took place in 1983. Dame Sarah Springman was one of the competitors and would go on to become champion at the first European Championships in 1985 and President of British Triathlon from 2007-2012.
Through the 1990s there was a sweep of British success on the international stage, including in 1993 when Manchester hosted the World Championships.
In Manchester, Spencer Smith and Simon Lessing secured a one-two in the elite men’s race, whilst Tim Stewart took the win in the men’s 30-34 age group. Smith would go on to defend his crown in Wellington the following year, while Lessing would go on to take the title for himself in 1995, 1996 and 1998 before representing Great Britain at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Read more about the early years of British Triathlon from the 25th Anniversary celebration in 2007 here.
Marisol Casado, World Triathlon President, said: “British Triathlon has been one of our most loyal and committed partners on its 40 years of history, they are a key element on World Triathlon history.
“It is such an honor to work with an institution that is so supportive, innovating, creative and sustainable. I am really looking forward to many more years of fruitful cooperation, see the British athletes shine, more events organised in Great Britain and all to continue working together to grow our sport even more.”
The Olympic and Paralympic Games have seen great success of British athletes since triathlon’s inclusion in Sydney and paratriathlon’s inclusion in Rio 2016.
Alistair and Jonny Brownlee took an iconic first and third for Team GB in 2012, where Helen Jenkins finished fifth in the women’s race. Four years later, Vicky Holland won the first women’s Olympic medal for Britain in triathlon when she placed third in Rio.
The Brazilian city was also the place where paratriathlon made its Paralympic debut, with four British paratriathletes coming home with a medal – gold for Andy Lewis; silver for Lauren Steadman and Alison Patrick (now Peasgood) and her guide Hazel Macleod; and bronze for Melissa Reid.
Marking its second inclusion in the Paralympic Games, Tokyo 2020 saw another three paratriathlon medals added to the ParalympicsGB tally when Steadman (gold), George Peasgood (silver) and Claire Cashmore (bronze) all took their place on the podium in the PTS5 classification.
Tokyo also saw the first Olympic mixed relay race, with Team GB (Jess Learmonth, Jonny Brownlee, Georgia Taylor-Brown and Alex Yee) bringing home gold on top of Taylor-Brown and Yee’s individual silver medals.
Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair of UK Sport, commented on British Triathlon’s 40 year anniversary: “happy birthday British Triathlon, 40 years young. You’ve accomplished so much, we’re all immensely proud of you and are looking forward to the next 40 years. Enjoy the celebrations.”
Success on the international stage is found beyond the elite races too, with hundreds of gold, silver and bronze medals being won by the Great Britain Age-Group Team at World and European Championships each year.
In 2022, over 3,000 British Triathlon Home Nation members raced for Britain internationally and claimed more than 500 medals between, with the calendar of qualifying events taking place in 2023 published already.
The Age-Group Team is made up of British Triathlon Home Nation members from Triathlon England, Triathlon Scotland and Triathlon Cymru.
Across the three Home Nations, there are over 29,000 members, 550 affiliated clubs, and 850 events which have taken place in 2022.
It’s from the grassroots of the sport that success on the elite stage comes, but also where tens of thousands of participants find their home in swim, bike, run.
Chair of Swansea Vale Triathlon Club, Marc Barrow, said of being a British Triathlon Home Nation affiliated club: “Being a British Tri affiliated club gives us the confidence to provide our members with a safe and welcoming environment to train and compete in triathlon. We certainly feel part of the family and have a voice in shaping triathlon in Wales.
“Our members benefit greatly by being part of a club. We've created a community and an environment where no question is a silly question. Members support and guide each other, and we all feel part of the same team.”
More information about opportunities available in swim, bike, run, as well as how to find your local club and events is available on the link below.