Your Guide to the Tokyo Olympic Men’s Contenders

We break down the strengths and weaknesses of the seven top contenders in the men's individual Olympic event.

Photo: Tommy Zaferes

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With shakeups in the world top 20 and a rising crop of new faces in the WTCS, the men’s individual Olympic race is totally up in the air. Previous favorites haven’t been in top form through 2021 and a younger crop of 20-year-olds have been mixing up the podium. To help make sense of the new names and new dynamics on the Olympic stage, we’ve enlisted the help of Thorsten Radde to compile a guide to seven top contenders in the individual men’s Olympic event and rate their swim, bike, and run prowess.

Read on for our expert guide.

Looking for more insight on how draft-legal strategy works and how the race could play out? Check out: Who and What to Watch For in Tokyo

Alex Yee

Alex Yee

23 Years Old | Great Britain

Swim: 2/5 | Bike: 3/5 | Run: 5/5

Who He Is: A sometime professional runner, Yee made his World Triathlon Series debut in 2019 and won his first WTCS race on home soil in Leeds in June to lock down his Olympic spot.

Why He Could Win: One of the fastest runners in the field, if Yee enters T2 with the front pack it’s likely that he’ll medal.

Why He Might Not: He might not enter T2 near the front. Still an up-and-comer on the circuit, Yee has only really come into his own recently. If not this year, watch for both him and Pearson in 2024.

Overall Performance: 4/5

Morgan Pearson

Morgan Pearson

27 Years Old | U.S.A.

Swim: 3/5 | Bike: 3/5 | Run: 4/5

Who He Is: The former collegiate and pro runner picked up triathlon in 2017. He’s spent the last few years working on his bike and swimming skills and became the first American man to achieve multiple WTCS podiums earlier this year.

Why He Could Win: Along with Yee, Pearson is hard to beat in a 10K run. The men’s race is likely to be a large pack on the bike, so if he can manage his losses on the bike and in transition, he could run his way to the front.

Why He Might Not: His bike skills are still noticeably in development and Pearson is consistently one of the slower athletes in transition—where a few seconds can make a big difference.

Overall Performance: 3/5

Vincent Luis

Vincent Luis

31 Years Old | France

Swim: 5/5 | Bike: 5/5 | Run: 4/5

Who He Is: An incredibly popular athlete in Europe and his home country (where triathlon has widely-followed leagues), Luis’ pedigree is long and impressive. He’s won multiple world titles, world series wins, and mixed relay world championships.

Why He Could Win: If the Olympics had been held last year, Luis would have been the hands-down favorite. There’s no one who is more consistently dominant.

Why He Might Not: The Olympics were not last year, and it’s not clear if the extra year helped or hurt Luis. A lot was read into his lackluster sixth place in Yokohama—but he could be peaking at just the right time.

Overall Performance: 5/5

Kristian Blummenfelt

Kristian Blummenfelt

27 Years Old | Norway

Swim: 2/5 | Bike: 4/5 | Run: 3/5

Who He Is: The current world record holder in the 70.3 distance and part of the Norwegian squad that has swept World Triathlon podiums, Blummenfelt also won the 2019 World Triathlon Grand Final.

Why He Could Win: He’s a smart racer, who knows how to use tactics to his advantage. He’s also not afraid to work on the bike, but can still run off those surges.

Why He Might Not: His swim could keep him from making the bike pack—though he’ll work like crazy to catch up. And he might just simply get outrun.

Overall Performance: 3/5

Mario Mola

Mario Mola

31 Years Old | Spain

Swim: 2/5 | Bike: 3/5 | Run: 5/5

Who He Is: Though he often gets overshadowed by teammate Javier Gomez, Mola is a three-time World Triathlon Series world champion in his own right.

Why He Could Win: Throughout 2018 and early 2019, he won five straight WTCS-level races (then called WTS). He’s a solid swim-biker, but a top-class runner.

Why He Might Not: He hasn’t shown form more recently, with no appearances at the WTCS level this year and a mediocre showing at the last-minute world championship in the fall.

Overall Performance: 3/5

Tyler Mislawchuk

Tyler Mislawchuk

27 Years Old | Canada

Swim: 4/5 | Bike: 3/5 | Run: 4/5

Who He Is: Even though the name might not sound familiar (or easy to pronounce), the young Canadian has already been to one Olympic Games, where he finished 15th in 2016.

Why He Could Win: One word: heat. Mislawchuk shines when things get hot, and he’s proven it with a win at the Tokyo test event in 2019 and the steamy Huatulco World Cup in mid-June.

Why He Might Not: Mislawchuk shines best in hot and short races, but he doesn’t have a long history of performing consistently at big Olympic-distance events on the WTCS.

Overall Performance: 3/5

Jonny Brownlee

Jonny Brownlee

31 Years Old | Great Britain

Swim: 5/5 | Bike: 3/5 | Run: 2/5

Who He Is: The younger brother of Alistair, Jonny is a two-time Olympic medalist himself.

Why He Could Win: You aren’t the defending silver medalist because you don’t know how to perform on the big stage. The Brownlees are famous for pulling out big performances when it matters most.

Why He Might Not: He’s looked sub-par so far this year and has been handily outrun. If it’s a big pack that comes down to the 10K, he simply might not be in contention.

Overall Performance: 2/5

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