Olympic Qualification on the Line for U.S. Elite Triathletes at 2023 World Triathlon Championship Finals Pontevedra
by USA Triathlon
COLORADO SPRINGS — U.S. elite triathletes will compete for U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team selections and the 2023 world title this week in Pontevedra, Spain, at the 2023 World Triathlon Championship Finals Pontevedra. The women’s and men’s elite triathlon races are the second auto-qualification opportunity for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. The racing action Friday through Sunday also includes the 2023 World Triathlon Para Championships Pontevedra, a key qualification event for U.S. elite paratriathletes, the women's and men's U23 World Championships and the 2023 World Triathlon Age-Group Championships.
- U.S. elite paratriathletes race on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 3 a.m. ET (9 a.m. local time in Pontevedra).
- The U23 men's race is on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 8:20 a.m. ET (2:20 p.m. local time in Pontevedra).
- The elite men's race is on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 11:20 a.m. ET (5:20 p.m. local time in Pontevedra).
- The women's U23 race is on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 8 a.m. ET (2 p.m. local time in Pontevedra).
- The elite women's race is on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 10:45 a.m. ET (4:45 p.m. local time in Pontevedra).
HOW TO WATCH
2023 WORLD TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS PONTEVEDRA
The elite women’s and men’s individual races in Pontevedra are the second Paris 2024 Olympic Games auto-qualification opportunities for elite U.S. triathletes. U.S. elites Taylor Knibb and Morgan Pearson qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at last month's Olympic Games Test Event Paris. Currently, the U.S. is on track to send three women and two men to Paris next year.
The auto-qualification criteria in Pontevedra is as follows: the first athlete to finish top-3 — who has not already qualified for the team at the Paris Test Event — will earn automatic selection. One spot for men and one for women is up for grabs in Pontevedra. If no athlete finishes in the top-3 in Pontevedra, then no athlete will auto-qualify.
A third auto-qualification opportunity will be available in spring 2024 at a to be determined World Triathlon Championship Series event.
If quota spots remain after the three auto-selection events, all remaining open spots will be filled by Discretionary 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.
WHO IS RACING
Taylor Spivey leads the deep squad of seven U.S. elite women, coming to Pontevedra the No. 4 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. Searching for her first U.S. Olympic Team berth, Spivey also has the opportunity to finish top-3 in the Series rankings after finishing fourth last season.
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. A Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Rappaport was the first U.S. athlete to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games by finishing fifth at the Tokyo Test Event.
Ranked 17th in the 2023 WTCS is Tokyo 2020 Olympic medalist Katie Zaferes. A two-time Olympian, Zaferes is aiming for her third Olympic team. Zaferes gave birth to her first child in 2022 and returned to elite racing this season.
Fellow mother and Olympic medalist, Gwen Jorgensen will also race for an Olympic Team berth. She comes to Pontevedra on a hot streak, with back-to-back World Cup wins at Karlovy Vary and Valencia. Jorgensen this season returned to elite triathlon racing; after winning the gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Jorgensen left the sport of triathlon to pursue an elite running career.
Longtime U.S. Elite Triathlon National Team member Kirsten Kasper (ranked 21st in the WTCS) and up-and-coming talent Erika Ackerlund and Gina Sereno round out the deep and talented U.S. elite women squad in Pontevedra.
In the elite men's race, U.S. Elite Triathlon National Team members Matt McElroy and Seth Rider will represent Team USA, coming to Pontevedra as the 30th and 32nd ranked athletes in the 2023 WTCS rankings. Both are vying for their first Olympic Team. McElroy is one of three U.S. men (along with Jarrod Shoemaker and Pearson) to win a medal at a WTCS event.
Pearson, who has already punched his ticket to Paris, will also race, looking for a repeat performance from the 2022 Championship Finals in Abu Dhabi when he won silver. Up-and-comer Darr Smith rounds out the men’s roster in Pontevedra.
2023 WORLD TRIATHLON PARATRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIPS
The 2023 World Triathlon Paratriathlon Championships, while not a direct auto-qualification event, gives athletes a valuable opportunity to earn points toward qualification for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024.
U.S. elite paratriathletes are set to race in Pontevedra, including Paralympic medalists Grace Norman (2016 gold, 2020 silver medalist, PTS5); Kendall Gretsch (2020 gold medalist, PTWC); Allysa Seely (2016, 2020 gold medalist, PTS2); Hailey Danz (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). Fellow Paralympian Mark Barr (PTS2) 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 the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.
Twenty-year old Project Podium athlete Owen Cravens (PTVI) will race with guide Ben Hoffman, while fellow up and coming stars Carson Clough (PTS4), Emma Meyers (PTS4), Emelia Perry (PTWC), McClain Hermes (PTVI) and Deb Chucoski (PTVI) will also race.
U23 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
U.S. elite up and comer John Reed comes to Pontevedra as the world's top-ranked U23 athlete, fresh off a win at the 2023 Americas Triathlon Championships Veracruz. Reed was the top U.S. performer at the 2022 U23 Championships Finals, placing ninth.
Nicholas Holmes, Project Podium athlete Drew Shellenberger and 2023 Americas Triathlon Cup Long Beach winner Zach Leachman will also race for the U.S. men.
Lydia Russell leads the U.S. women U23 squad. A member of the University of Arizona women's collegiate triathlon team, Russell comes to Pontevedra following a 15th place U23 finish at the 2023 Americas Triathlon Championships Veracruz.
Arizona State University women's collegiate triathlon team members Liberty Ricca and Faith Dasso will also race. Ricca placed 25th at the 2022 U23 Championships Finals to lead the U.S. women. Dasso was the top Junior U.S. woman at this summer's 2023 World Triathlon Sprint Championships Hamburg, placing 13th. Alexandra Poole will also race for the U.S., coming to Pontevedra following a seventh place finish at the 2023 Americas Triathlon Cup Edmonton.
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.