Russia aiming for first-ever triathlon medal in London 2012

A bronze medal is the official target set for the Russian men's triathlon team for London 2012, with Aleksandr Bryukhankov steadily proving he has the pedigree to do just that.

­Triathlon is a multi-sport event involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance events, which include swimming, cycling and running.

The sport was introduced to the modern games in Sydney back in 2000.

“This season was very successful for me. I reached the podium three times at the World Series, I won a stage of the European Cup and the championship of Russia,” Aleksandr Bryukhankov told RT. “I think it’s a decent result. Unfortunately, because of cramp, I was unable to win a medal at the finals of the World Series.”

Bryukhankov is one of two Russian triathletes who are currently in the world's top ten and are hopefuls to win an Olympic podium place in London.

His latest major success was in August when he won silver at the World Series stage in London, which earned him an Olympic ticket for 2012.

“I usually come up short in the running portion of the event. I know I'm strong in it but I have to learn how to relax and spread out my strength evenly over all three disciplines. When that happens, my results will also improve,” he said.

Despite finishing in a commendable second place in London, behind the English champion Alistair Brownlee and in front of his brother Jonathan Brownlee, Aleksandr and the rest of the Russian team know that it is the Olympic performance which will matter most at the end of the day as they continue helping each other to become stronger athletes.

“My teammate Dmitry Polyansky, who is also in the world's top ten, constantly pushes me to train harder, and I'm sure it's reciprocal on his side. Plus we both feel pressure from foreign athletes who are surely not idle while we are training,” Bryukhankov added.

At the moment there are eight Russian triathletes among the world's Top 50, which is a far cry from only one person in that ranking just five years ago. Three is the maximum number of Olympic licenses that a men's team can get, with Brioukhankov and Polyansky the obvious takers of the first two tickets.

However, there are at least six more quite capable athletes competing for the remaining ticket to the games where the Russians hope for at least one piece of silverware.

“Of course there is a medal plan,”
Dmitry Butkov, Russia’s head coach, said. “After all, sports authorities are investing quite a lot into our preparation process and they would like to know what we are aiming for in London. Our goal is at least a bronze Olympic medal from our men and I think it could be either Polyansky or Bryukhankov. But wonders do happen, especially in triathlon, and we could see both of our athletes on the podium.”

Aleksandr Bryukhankov is in relaxation mode at the moment, recuperating after a tough but successful season.

However, his and the rest of his teammates’ lives are about to change as they enter the final preparation phase for London next year.