Olympic Qualification on the Line for U.S. Elite Triathletes at Paris Test Event
by USA Triathlon
PARIS — U.S. elite triathletes will compete for U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team selections this week, as the World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris gets underway at the Pont Alexandre III and Seine River Thursday, Aug. 17 to Sunday, Aug. 20. The women’s and men’s elite triathlon races are the first auto-qualification opportunity for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. In addition to the individual elite competitions, race week also includes the 2023 World Triathlon Para Cup Paris race — a key U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team selection event — and an elite Mixed Relay race.
The elite women race on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 2 a.m. ET (8 a.m. local time in Paris). The elite men race on Friday, Aug. 18 at 2 a.m. ET (8 a.m. local time in Paris).
Elite paratriathletes race the World Triathlon Para Cup Paris on Saturday, Aug. 19 at 2 a.m. ET (8 a.m. local time in Paris). The weekend of racing concludes with the Mixed Relay event on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 2 a.m. ET (8 a.m. local time in Paris).
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WORLD TRIATHLON OLYMPIC GAMES TEST EVENT PARIS
Olympic qualification is on the line in the elite women’s and men’s individual races, with the following as possible scenarios for U.S. elite triathletes:
- In the Olympic Games Test Event Paris qualification event, up to two U.S. athletes who finish on the podium in either the men’s or women’s elite races will be auto-selected to the 2024 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.
- If one U.S. athlete reaches the podium, that athlete will be auto-selected, and the next athlete finishing within the top-eight overall will also earn a spot on the team.
- If no U.S. athlete finishes on the podium, then the highest-placing U.S. athlete within the top-eight overall will earn automatic selection.
Olympic Team selections are subject to the U.S. earning its predicted two to three country slots per gender at the conclusion of the World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Period in 2024. In addition, all Olympic Team nominations are pending final approval by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee. Read here for more information about U.S. qualification procedures for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Taylor Spivey leads the U.S. elite women, coming to Paris the No. 3 ranked athlete in the 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series rankings. She has two podium finishes this season, with bronze medal performances in Abu Dhabi and Cagliari.
Fellow U.S. Elite Triathlon National team member Summer Rappaport is currently ranked fifth in the 2023 WTCS, with a bronze in Montreal and a fourth place finish in Hamburg. In 2019, Rappaport was the first U.S. athlete to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by finishing fifth at the Tokyo Test Event.
Kirsten Kasper and Taylor Knibb come to Paris ranked 17th and 18th, respectively, in the 2023 WTCS rankings. Knibb earlier this month won the 2023 PTO U.S. Open championship in Milwaukee.
Rounding out the deep U.S. elite women’s roster in Paris is Katie Zaferes, who won bronze in the individual women’s race at the 2020 Olympic Games. Zaferes gave birth to her first child in 2022 and returned to elite racing this season; she currently sits 21st in the WTCS rankings.
In the elite men's race, U.S. Elite Triathlon National Team members Seth Rider and Matt McElroy and will represent Team USA, coming to Paris as the 30th and 36th ranked athletes in the 2023 WTCS rankings. McElroy is one of three U.S. men (along with Jarrod Shoemaker and Morgan Pearson) to win a medal at a WTCS event. Project Podium alum Chase McQueen and fellow up-and-comer Darr Smith round out the men’s roster in Paris.
WORLD TRIATHLON PARA WORLD CUP PARIS
The World Triathlon Para World Cup Paris, while not a direct auto-qualification event, gives athletes a valuable opportunity to earn points toward qualification for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024. Should an athlete win both the World Cup Paris and the World Triathlon Paratriathlon World Championships in September in Spain in their classification, he or she will be named to the 2024 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team pending the U.S. earning a country slot in that classification medal event.
Fourteen U.S. elite paratriathletes are set to race in Paris, including Paralympic medalists Grace Norman (2016 gold, 2020 silver medalist, PTS5); Kendall Gretsch (2020 gold medalist, PTWC); Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo., 2016, 2020 silver medalist, PTS2), Melissa Stockwell (2016 bronze medalist. PTS2) and Mohamed Lahna (2016 bronze medalist representing Morocco, PTS2).
Also racing is three-time Paralympian Chris Hammer (PTS5), Tokyo 2020 Paralympians Kelly Elmlinger (PTS4), Kyle Coon (PTVI), with guide Zach Goodman and Eric McElvenny (PTS4).
Twenty-year old Project Podium athlete Owen Cravens (PTVI) will race with guide Ben Hoffman, while fellow up and coming stars Carson Clough (PTS4) and Emma Meyers (PTS4) will also race.
Also racing is Mark Barr (PTS2) who finished fourth at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio and returned to the sport last year following the announcement his classification, men’s PTS2, would be a medal event at Paris 2024.
The Mixed Relay event showcases the fast-paced, team-oriented race format that made its Olympic debut at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Mixed Relay teams are comprised of four athletes — competing in the order of man, woman, man, woman — with each team member completing a 300m swim, 7.4k bike and 2k run before tagging their next teammate.
The U.S. quartet of Zaferes, Kevin McDowell, Knibb and Morgan Pearson won Olympic silver in Tokyo.
Teams from 22 nations are set to compete in Paris, with the U.S. coming in as the No. 3 ranked team.
The four U.S. athletes who will comprise the mixed relay team will be determined following the individual men’s race.
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, paratriathlon, and indoor and virtual multisport events in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,000 races 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) – to learn more: usatriathlon.org