— Published 5 June 2023

“A course for the smartest”

Triathlon can play the big man. Since its inclusion in the Olympic programme at the Sydney 2000 Games, it has often inherited the most telegenic and spectacular venues. The Sydney Opera House for its Olympic debut, Hyde Park at the London 2012 Games…

This great run will continue next year at the Paris 2024 Games. A start from the Pont Alexandre III, followed by a swim in the Seine, before cycling and running along some of the capital’s most prestigious avenues.

Dominique Frizza (see picture below) is in charge of the discipline within the OCOG. FrancsJeux continues its series of interviews with the Organising Committee’s sports managers.

FrancsJeux: How was your life like before the Paris 2024 OCOG?

Dominique Frizza: I had a very varied career. I have been a parliamentary assistant, I have worked in the restaurant business, in real estate… But before joining the OCOG, I was chief executive of the Centre-Val de Loire triathlon league. In triathlon, I have climbed almost every rung of the ladder, from club volunteer to member of the French federation’s executive committee, via the presidency of a club and a league. I am also a technical official and trainer at World Triathlon, the international federation.

What was your past experience of the Olympic Games?

I have taken part in three consecutive editions of the Summer Games, the last three. At London 2012 and Rio 2016, I was a technical official for the international triathlon federation. Right at the heart of the action, on the competition field. At Tokyo 2020, I took part in the observer programme at the Paralympic Games. It was a very rewarding experience. I have a great respect for the way the Japanese organised the event, despite the very complicated conditions. At the end of the Games, I had a chat with my Japanese counterpart, the triathlon sports manager. I asked her what the key to success was. Her answer was immediate: the quality of the organising team.

Do you have a lasting memory to share about the Games?

A rather crazy experience at the Rio 2016 Games. After being forced to leave my anti-mosquito spray at the security checkpoint, before a briefing on the triathlon competition, I ended up in the hands of the tourist police for trying to get it back myself in an area that was off-limits to me. My accreditation was confiscated and I was questioned for two hours… In the end, the Brazilians agreed to let me go. On a more sporting note, the excitement surrounding the London 2012 Games, particularly in triathlon. The team of international technical officials was very close-knit. The race in Hyde Park was extraordinary. At the finish of the men’s race, we had to wait 40 minutes before being able to hold the podium ceremony. Bronze medallist Jonathan Brownlee had collapsed after the finish and was struggling to recover.

What is at the top of the pile on your desk?

Without a doubt, preparation for the triathlon and para-triathlon test-event. It is due to take place from 17 to 20 August, on the site of the Olympic and Paralympic events. A real dress rehearsal presented by Paris 2024. We have grafted ourselves onto an event on the World Triathlon international calendar. Over the four days, we’ll be offering two individual races, a para-triathlon event and a mixed relay. We will have all three formats, on the exact same course as the Games, at the same times, with the best triathletes in the world. Everything will be tested: the venue, security, accreditation, etc.

The triathlon and para-triathlon venue: what are its assets and the challenge in the run-up to the Games?

The start will be on the Pont Alexandre III, in the heart of Paris, for a swim in the Seine, before cycling and running through some of the capital’s most beautiful districts. An extraordinary, grandiose site, but complicated in terms of organisation. The bridge, in particular, as the space is quite limited. Making the Seine swimmable is a major political and media issue. For the triathletes, the course should not be too difficult – it is very flat. But it will not be easy, because it is very technical. The athletes believe that it should favour the smartest among them. There are two challenges, never before seen at the Games: swimming against the current in the Seine, then climbing 35 to 37 steps to reach the first transition.

Paris 2024 will be a success for triathlon…

The Games will be a success if the athletes are satisfied. They are the kings of the party, the main players. After that, success can also be measured by the way the public, Parisians in particular, make the event their own. Once the Games are over, I would like them to be happy to have hosted the Olympic and Paralympic triathlon. Finally, a French gold medal would be a plus. Especially for the French federation, which has been chasing an Olympic title for a long time. It would reward the hard work it puts into training, supporting and coaching its athletes.