Knibb, Rappaport, Zaferes Prepped for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Women’s Triathlon
by USA Triathlon
TOKYO — USA Triathlon’s Taylor Knibb and Summer Rappaport are ready for their Olympic Games debut, while 2016 U.S. Olympian and 2019 world champion Katie Zaferes returns to sport’s biggest stage Monday, July 26 at 5:30 p.m. ET (Tuesday, July 27 at 6:30 a.m. Japan time) in the women’s individual triathlon event at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The race will be broadcast live on USA Network and will also be available via livestream on the NBC Sports App and NBCOlympics.com. Joanna Zeiger, 2000 U.S. Olympian, and Kelly O’Mara, Triathlete Magazine Editor-In-Chief, will provide pre- and post-race commentary from the USA Triathlon Facebook page from 4:45-5:15 p.m. ET (pre-race) and 8-8:30 p.m. ET (post-race). Click here to learn more.
The main venue for the Tokyo 2020 triathlon events is Odaiba Marine Park, a coastal tourist attraction with views of Tokyo’s iconic Rainbow Bridge. Athletes will cover a 1,500-meter swim in Tokyo Bay, followed by a 40-kilometer draft-legal bike and 10-kilometer run around the park and surrounding city streets. Rain is likely, and conditions are expected to be hot and humid — with air temperatures expected to reach the low 80s Fahrenheit even with precipitation.
Zaferes (Cary, N.C.) is the only member of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team with prior Olympic experience. She made her debut at the Rio 2016 Games, placing 18th. Zaferes has progressed steadily through the international ranks ever since — placing fifth in the overall World Triathlon Championship Series rankings in 2015, fourth in 2016, third in 2017, second in 2018 and finally earning her first career world title in 2019.
Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.) qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team almost two years before the rest of her teammates, securing the first available auto-qualification spot at the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event. She finished the 2019 season ranked fifth in the world and earned a silver medal at the 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama in May, sharing the podium with gold medalist Knibb.
Knibb (Washington, D.C.) is a two-time Junior World Champion and one-time Under-23 World Champion, and at 23, is the youngest woman ever to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team. Her most recent podium, a gold in Yokohama on May 15, earned her a ticket to the Tokyo Games.
The U.S. women will race within a strong international field, including the British trio of Vicky Holland, Rio 2016 bronze medalist, Georgia Taylor-Brown, 2020 world champion and 2019 world silver medalist, and Jessica Learmonth, 2019 world bronze medalist; Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2016 Olympic silver medalist; Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, two-time world champion and 2020 world silver medalist; and up-and-coming star Maya Kingma of the Netherlands, who medaled in both of the early-season 2021 World Triathlon Championship Series events.
Click here to download USA Triathlon’s “United in Tokyo” Olympic and Paralympic Media Guide, and click here to access photos and video b-roll of all 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team members.
Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.)
Knibb has been the U.S. National Team’s youngest member since she first made the team in 2017. A triathlete since childhood, she grew up competing in USA Triathlon’s youth and junior elite circuit while running for her school’s cross-country and track teams (Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C.) and swimming with Nation’s Capital Swim Club. She went on to win the 2016 and 2017 Junior World Championships and the 2018 Under-23 World Championships — one of just three women ever to capture world titles at both the Junior and U23 levels. Knibb is a 2020 graduate of Cornell, where she ran NCAA track and cross-country for four years while balancing her elite triathlon career. She also joined the Cornell swim team her senior year. Today, Knibb trains in Boulder, Colorado, with Origin Performance Squad, an elite international training group coached by Ian O’Brien.
Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.)
Rappaport, 29, was the first athlete to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team in 2019. She grew up in Colorado and attended Mountain Range High School in Westminster, achieving first team all-conference honors in both swimming and cross-country. She went on to compete in NCAA Division I swimming and cross-country at Villanova University. As a collegiate swimmer, Rappaport placed in the top eight of the Big East Championship in each of her four years. Throughout her cross-country career, she earned 2011-12 Academic honors, 2012 All-Mid-Atlantic Region, 2012 All-Big East, and placed fourth at the 2013 Big East Championships in the 5,000. After college, she was recruited to triathlon through the USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program and began competing as an elite in March 2014. She is a five-time World Triathlon Championship Series medalist and 13-time World Triathlon Cup medalist. Rappaport trains with The Triathlon Squad, an elite international training group coached by Paulo Sousa.
Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.)
Zaferes, 32, grew up in Hampstead, Maryland, and was a multi-time state champion in track & field at North Carroll High School. She went on to compete in track & field and cross-country for Syracuse University, specializing in the steeplechase and breaking multiple school records. She was later identified by USA Triathlon Collegiate Recruitment Program founder Barb Lindquist, who recognized her steeplechase background as a strong foundation for success in triathlon. Zaferes began competing at the elite level in 2013 and made her Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games, where she finished 18th. Zaferes has risen steadily through the international rankings throughout her career, placing fifth overall in the World Triathlon Championship Series in 2015, fourth in 2016, third in 2017, and second in 2018, before capturing her first career World Triathlon Championship title in 2019. She is the No. 1-ranked athlete in the World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Rankings heading into Tokyo. Zaferes lives in Cary, North Carolina, and is coached by Joel Filliol.
Flash Quotes — Pre-Race, Women’s Triathlon
On the atmosphere at the Olympic Village and the USOPC High Performance Center in Setagaya:
Knibb: “The experience is more than I could have imagined. I didn’t really have any expectations, but it’s excellent and I am thoroughly enjoying my time. I’ve been really enjoying just getting to know the other Americans better and spending time with them, it’s a good atmosphere.”
Rappaport: “We have a really good training setup here. Team USA has a training facility in Setagaya, which is about 30 minutes from the Olympic Village. We have a really nice pool here, as well as treadmills and a track. The bike and swim courses at the race venue are open for us for a few days leading into the race, and we are also able to run and bike outside at the Olympic Village.”’
Zaferes: “Between the venue, the High Performance Center and the Olympic Village, we’ve been able to get in all of our training really quite easily and in nice areas. In the Olympic Village, the surprise was that we can go run outside and have a 3.6k loop each time, which is pretty solid for COVID times for training. You really don’t feel stifled or like you have to just sit in your room.”
On the Olympic experience and how it compares to Rio 2016:
Zaferes: “It’s been really fun being here and really having the Olympic experience. In Rio, the triathlon events were so far toward the back of the Games that by the time our race was over, the Olympics were basically over. I felt like maybe I didn’t take it in as well as I could have — so that was a big goal for me coming into Tokyo, and I can already tell you I’m really being successful at that. To be completely immersed among all the other athletes has been amazing. I’ve been collecting all the pins from other countries, which has been super fun for me, and I hope to collect some more and meet some more people."
On mindset going into race day:
Rappaport: “I’m feeling really good. This has been a lifelong dream of mine to compete at an Olympic Games, and I’m so proud to be representing USA Triathlon and Team USA here in Tokyo.”
Knibb: “I’m just hoping to execute a good swim, bike and run. Whatever happens, happens. I can’t control how anyone else does on the race day, but I want to put together a race that I’m happy with, and I’ll be satisfied with that.”
Later This Week: Triathlon Mixed Relay
The Triathlon Mixed Relay, a first-time medal event at the Olympic Games, will take place Friday, July 30, at 6:30 p.m. ET. The final four-person mixed relay team (two men, two women) will not be determined until race morning, but will come from among those athletes competing in the individual events.
For more information about USA Triathlon at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, visit usatriathlon.org/tokyo2020.
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,000 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).