In Search of a Meaningful Story: Oral History and Triathlon Memory in Australia

Jane E. Hunt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
139 Downloads (Pure)


There has been limited effort to record and document the origins and growth of triathlon as a sport. Two decades after the Mission Bay Triathlon, which is widely regarded as the first modern triathlon occurred in 1974, the concept of swimming, cycling and running in continuous succession had attained sufficient global recognition and organization to achieve Olympic inclusion. Yet, while many magazine articles, oral and video interviews, and some small circulation films and documentaries present aspects of the sport’s past, triathlon is not the subject of a coherent sport history. The Multisport Dreaming project emerged in part out of a desire to understand the silence about triathlon history. Research for the project involved interviews with approximately two hundred individuals. Drawing on literature about subculture and sport, memory, and oral history, this paper analyses just three of these oral histories for signs of the processes through which interviewees made sense out of their experiences. It makes a case for a view of oral narratives as performances through which individuals deploy and engage with discourse. At least in the sport of triathlon oral narratives appear as influential acts of social memory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1218-1233
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number13-14
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2019


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