Triathlon Magazine Canada
Glee for Yee at WTCS Leeds
Heading into the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) Leeds, British Triathlon had the unenviable task of having to pick either twotime Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee or up-and-coming star Alex Yee for the second men’s spot on its Olympic team. That set up a showdown between the two at the race in Leeds, an event Brownlee had won a couple of times.
The 33-year-old’s run at a third straight Olympic gold medal stalled, though, thanks to an injury that has sidelined Brownlee for a few months. He had hoped for “a miracle” as he tried to overcome the injury with a final go at joining his brother, Jonathan, at the Olympics, but that opportunity appears to be over after a tough day in Leeds.
After coming out of the water in second place and being very much in the mix throughout the bike, Brownlee was obviously not himself on the run, quickly losing time on the rest of the field as the 10 km run started. Then, literally adding insult to injury, during the run we learned on the TriathlonLive.tv coverage that Brownlee had been disqualified for “unsportsmanlike behaviour during the swim segment.” Video of the event appeared to show Brownlee pushing American Chase McQueen under the water.
“That was a really tough day,” he told BBC Sport. “I only knew I was disqualified on the last lap so it was a bitter end to it. In the middle of the swim, anything can happen. I’m in the middle of a stroke and I can guarantee that as bad was done to me 10 seconds before and 10 seconds after. It is a subjective field of play decision, but it is what it is.”
“I was pretty sure that would be my last World Series race,” he continued. “I have struggled in the last three or four months with injury, I needed a miracle today, I have done everything I can and I needed some luck but I didn’t get it.”
Yee, a former track star, proved that he has Olympic medal potential thanks to a masterful performance that saw him come out of the water in the first chase group, ride aggressively to come off the bike with the leaders, then run away from the rest of the field to take the title and pretty much assure himself of a trip to Tokyo later this month.
In the women’s race Lucy Charles-Barclay made her short-course racing debut in style, serving as a monstrous game-changer in the event that saw her amazing swim efforts set up a three-woman breakaway that would include the day’s three medallists.
The three-time Kona runner-up hammered through the swim, stringing out the rest of the field and leading her countrywomen Jessica Learmonth and Sophie Coldwell, along with the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma, out of the water. A slow transition meant that Charles-Barclay would be relegated to the first chase pack as the other three women orchestrated a masterful three-woman time trial effort to come off the bike ahead of a group of four that included Charles-Barclay, American Taylor Spivey and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy.
Kingma and Learmonth would push their way clear of Coldwell, with the Dutchwoman running clear in the last few hundred metres of the race to take her first WTCS title. Duffy would take fourth, while Charles-Barclay surprised all but her most ardent fans with a fifthplace finish.
American Olympic conundrum
With many of the world’s top female triathletes, USA Triathlon somehow managed to get itself in the position where it had to choose between the top-ranked athlete in the Olympic standings (Katie Zaferes) and the women in third (Taylor Spivey) as the member of the American team to race in Tokyo. At the country’s first qualifying opportunity, the Tokyo Test Event in 2019, Zaferes crashed and Spivey had stomach issues, opening the door for Summer Rappaport to nail her trip to Tokyo with a sixth-place finish. At the second qualifying event at WTCS Yokohama, Taylor Knibb had the race of her life to nail the second American spot on the team, with Rappaport proving her race in Tokyo was hardly a fluke with a solid runner-up finish. Spivey ended up fourth and Zaferes hardly looked herself as she finished well back in the field. Earlier this year the 2019 world champion lost her father, which certainly wouldn’t have helped her prepare for a run at the Games in Tokyo this summer. Spivey had an impressive race to finish sixth at WTCS Leeds, while Zaferes finished 17th. As we go to print the American team had not been officially announced.
Edmonton Worlds won’t have age-group competition
The organizers of the World Triathlon Championship Finals had to drop the age group competition from this year’s worlds, which means the event will only include elite and U23 races.
“The unfortunate decision has been taken due to COVID-19 and the related international travel restrictions, that will make it impossible for most of the age-group athletes to travel to Canada this summer,” World Triathlon communicated in a release. “With the health and safety of our athletes and community as top priority, government officials and public health authorities are unable to grant travel exemptions to international age-group athletes, including vaccinated travellers at this time. And while we hoped the COVID-19 situation regarding international travel would have improved over the past few months, unfortunately this has not been the case.”
The cancellation of the age-group races is a blow to the organizers in Edmonton, who were hoping to host over 3,000 age-group athletes from around the world this summer. World Triathlon says it is “working with different Organizers … to try and find an alternate location for these races later in the year.”
The elite and U23 races will still take place in Edmonton as planned between Aug. 17 and 22.