University of Colorado track and field alum Morgan Pearson anchored Team USA to an silver medal on Friday afternoon in the first-ever mixed triathlon relay at the Tokyo Olympics.
The team of Katie Zaferes, Kevin McDowell, Taylor Knibb and Pearson crossed the line second behind the quartet of Great Britain in 1 hour, 23 minutes and 55 seconds. The team 14 seconds back of Great Britain and nine seconds ahead of the previous World Champion team in France. Pearson anchored the team to second after passing France in the final run leg. The sprint relay consisted of a 300-meter swim, 6.8 kilometer draft legal bike ride and a 2-kilometer run for each individual.
Zaferes started things off for the United States and got the team into the original lead pack of four. McDowell had moments of leading but was 20 seconds behind Britain when he ‘handed off’ to Knibb where the race really started to heat up.
Knibb chased individual silver medalist Georgia Taylor-Brown who would be handing off to men’s silver medalist Alex Yee. Despite her best efforts, Knibb handed off with the same 21-second gap that she started with.
Pearson went to the water where he was caught by Vincent Luis in the transition. Still the duo was able to cut four second off the Great Britain lead. Pearson tucked in behind and began to draft off Luis. Luis took the lead on the bike after the first of two laps as Pearson kept cutting down the gap between third and the front two, just four seconds back at the halfway mark.
Pearson shortened the gap in the bike alone without the ability to draft. He came out of transition nine seconds back when Yee leading Luis by three seconds. The 2k run lent to Pearson’s talent as he caught France quickly. It was too little, too late though as Pearson cut the gap to 11 seconds after the first lap of the run and finished 14 seconds back for his first Olympic medal.
Pearson’s medal is the 20th for a CU alum since the 1948 summer Olympics, joining Flora Duffy who won the women’s triathlon gold medal during these games as she represented Bermuda.