Norway in the Olympics: Blummenfelt Norway’s first Olympic triathlete

Photo: Dag Oliver / NRK Kristian Blummenfelt after winning the European Cup race in Madrid.

Photo: Dag Oliver / NRK
Kristian Blummenfelt after winning the European Cup race in Madrid.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

Norway isn’t known for excelling in triathlon, but 22-year-old Kristian Blummenfelt is trying to change that.

The triathlete from Bergen first decided to try out the sport back in 2008 at the age of 14. While he was a strong athlete, he wasn’t excelling on his swim team and decided to give some additional elements a shot.

“I knew I was going to swim, bike, and run, in that order. What equipment I was supposed to use, I knew little about. It was quite strange. I hadn’t seen triathletes either on YouTube or in reality,” Blummenfelt told NRK.

Despite his uncertainty, the teenage Blummenfelt went on to win that first triathlon and quickly became hooked on the sport.

“Kristian’s story is wonderful. In 2008, he had never tried a triathlon before, but he was pretty good at swimming and running. Since then he has shown outstanding progress and meant a lot to the development of the sport in Norway,” says Arild Mjøs Andersen, president of Norges Triatlonforbund (Norway’s Triathlon Association).

Now Blummenfelt represents Bergen Triathlon Club in Norway and Valence Triathlon in France and has won the Norwegian Championship four times, two on the normal distance (in 2012 and 2013) and two in the sprint version (in 2012 and 2014).

The triathlete is known for spending more time training than other athletes, averaging around 1,300 hours per year. While he is usually strongest on the bicycle, Blummenfelt feels he’s improved in all disciplines throughout his vigorous training this winter.

After several weeks of training at the Sierra Nevada altitude-training center in Granada, Spain, Blummendelt arrived in Madrid for the European Cup race on May 1.

The Norwegian finished the cycling stage with a group of six or seven others, but he broke away from the pack during the running stage. Only Antonio Serrat Seoane of Spain was able to keep up with him during the run, but Blummenfelt still managed to outrun him and take first place.

“I felt fresh the last three or four kilometers and felt like I had good control of the Spaniard. But you never know,” Blummenfelt told NRK right before he went up to the podium to accept his gold medal.

His fellow Norwegian, 20-year-old Gustav Iden, also had a fantastic competition and ended in fourth place.

It turns out the European Cup was just the start for Blummenfelt. The next weekend, he moved on to the World Cup in Italy, followed by the World Triathlon Series in Japan.

“I always think I can fight for the podium. There it will be even stronger competition, but many of the best were here today too, even if it was a slightly thinner starting field,” he said to NRK.

And he was right to be optimistic: At the World Cup race in Cagliari on May 8, Blummenfelt and Iden matched their results from Madrid, finishing in first and fourth place, respectively.

Blummenfelt’s victory secured him 500 points and put him safely within the top 55 triathletes in the world, ensuring him a spot at the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this August. He will therefore become Norway’s first triathlete to compete in the Olympics.

“The results are a major step in the right direction for a nation that is on the rise to international senior level,” said Norges Triatlonforbund’s sports manager, Arild Tveiten, to Aftenposten.

The World Triathlon Series race in Yokohama, Japan, on May 14 marked the final chance for triathletes to obtain one of the 55 coveted spots at the Olympics. This series is the highest level in international triathlon competition, offering the most ranking points and prize money.

The Norwegian surprised everybody by taking third, beat only by Spain’s Mario Mola and Mexico’s Crisanto Grajales. Right on Grajales’ tail, Blummenfelt ended a mere three seconds away from earning the silver.

With this bronze, Blummenfelt’s participation in the Olympics is guaranteed, and his podium finishes have helped him climb up the world rankings, which will give him a better starting place at the Olympics. Following the World Triathlon Series bronze, he ranked 20th in the world.

The triathlon was introduced to the Summer Olympics program at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and includes 1,500 meters of swimming, 40 kilometers of bicycling, and 10 kilometers of running, in that order.

In Rio “I’ll be fighting for the medals,” he promises.

This article originally appeared in the June 3, 2016, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.