How Not to Be “That Person” When Watching the Olympics

Enjoy the Games this summer, but remember when to hold your tongue.

Photo: Mike Reisel

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The Olympic Games are right around the corner and, as triathletes, there will be plenty of events us multi-sporters can relate to as we watch with our friends. There’ll even be many sports we know how to do. And while we may be tempted to highlight our prowess, it’s important to not come across as a know-it-all when watching the Games. After all, we want to get invited back to our friends’ houses again in four years. To save you from yourself, here are some potential hot-button tri-related topics to avoid as you’re watching the Tokyo Olympics.


When watching swimmers rack up more medals than triathletes have bikes, hold yourself back from saying that anyone can win a swimming medal because there are thousands of events (there’s 18, actually). I’ve been that guy, and I’ll tell you that the reaction from most people is a look that says, “Taren, you swim like a drowning French Bulldog, so zip it.” Save yourself the embarrassment and just be happy for the winning swimmers—who are all still much much faster than you, no matter the stroke.

Road Cycling

You’re going to have to put a chicken wing in your mouth when you feel the urge to say, “These road cyclists are fast because they only have to train for one sport.” (And don’t you dare mention the drafting thing.) Pro cyclists train 20 to 30 hours a week. Forget about your legs being strong enough to handle it, your bum couldn’t even handle that many hours in the saddle. I’ve ridden with pro triathlete and roadie Cameron Wurf and he shattered me…on his recovery ride. Sorry, but they’re on a different level.


Under no circumstances should you blurt out, “I know they’re running 4:30-minute miles for two hours straight, but they’d be sooooooo much slower if they had to swim and bike first.” The urge to say this will be overwhelming. Resist! Remember that even Jan Frodeno’s fastest marathon time is almost 30 minutes slower than what these runners are capable of. And you’re no Jan Frodeno.


For your own safety, do not comment on their endurance ability. “They might be able to lift a car over their head, but I could totally take them in a 5K.” Remember when you got injured just trying to take 10-pound weights off the bar two summers ago? Check your ego at the gym door, and you won’t risk getting that car dropped on your head.

Track & Field

Don’t, do not, under any circumstances say, “I bet they’ve never even done an Ironman.” Actually, just don’t say that about any of the Olympians. You’re right, they probably haven’t; they probably could, though. And keep in mind that Usain Bolt has reached a top speed of 27.8mph—so he could outrun you even if you had on a pair of Nike 400% shoes.


OK, finally, here’s where you can let loose! Share your knowledge with all your friends, tell them how great the sport is, and brag about how welcoming most triathletes are. Tell them everything you know about triathlon until you wear them down and convince them to do one. You never know, you might just get a new training partner out of it too.

Related: Triathlete’s Guide to the Tokyo Olympics

Jan Frodeno Reflects on His Final Ironman World Championship

Immediately after finishing 24th place at his final Ironman World Championships, the Olympic medalist (and three-time IMWC winner) explains what his race in Nice meant to him.