By Erin Greene on 12/05/16 at 12:28 pm
After two competitive years of qualification, there is just one race left that will decide athletes’ Olympic dreams. It all comes down to World Triathlon Yokohama. While plenty of athletes have already booked their slots, there is still massive competition for last-ditch attempts to get to Brazil. The qualification process is complicated, so here we break down who has to perform on Saturday to get to Rio.
Please note that until National Olympic Committees have named their Olympic teams, all results are provisional. Even if an athlete fulfills ITU’s qualification requirements, it doesn’t mean they are automatically selected to go to Rio. Rather, their National Olympic Committee now has a spot, which they are free to use how they want.
European new flag
Currently Lisa Norden (SWE) fills the criteria to be selected for Rio in the European new flag selection policy. However, she has some slight competition from Estonia’s Kaidi Kivioja and Portugal’s Melanie Santos. Kivoja would need to finish fourth or higher in Yokohama, while Santos would need to pull out an impressive second or first place finish to punch a ticket to Rio over Norden. While this scenario isn’t highly like, Kiovioja’s best chances at taking the European flag criteria is if Norden competes extremely well & boosts her points high enough inside the top 50 women. That could allow Kiovioja to move into the ‘new flag’ criteria.
On the men’s side, a showdown is set for Yokohama, with several men in the hunt for that European flag. Thomas Springer (AUT) is currently in position for an Olympic berth & needs a top 20 finish to maintain or improve on his ranking. He also needs to keep an eye out for Ukraine’s Ivan Ivanov and Austria’s Alois Knabl, who are his biggest threats. At minimum, Ivanov needs a top 11 finish, while Knabl needs to click the sixth-fastest time just to move ahead of Springer’s current 1728 points.
America’s new flag
Perhaps one of the closest showdowns on Saturday will be for the men’s America’s new flag between Barbados’ Jason Wilson and Puerto Rico’s Manuel Huerta. Only 70 points separate the pair now. To improve his current position, Wilson needs to finish 28th or higher. Huerta has opted to sit Yokohama out, so Wilson just needs to get the job done. If he can, he’ll become the first athlete from Barbados to compete in triathlon at the Olympics - not a small feat, especially considering only six people in total competed for Barbados in all Olympic sports in London.
While Yokohama offers the highest points for Olympic ranking, there is one more race on this Saturday that offers Olympic qualifying points – the Burabay NTT ASTC Sprint Triathlon Asian Cup. It is there that the women’s America’s new flag. With 103 points separating Romina Palacios Balena (ARG) and Elizabeth Bravo (ECU),the women will duke it out at the Asian Cup. Bravo needs to win or come second to surpass Balena in the rankings, but if she takes silver, she needs to ensure she beats Balena.
Africa new flag
Simply put, the only man that can use this qualification spot is Morocco’s Mehdi Essadiq and he needs a top 35 finish in Yokohama to do so.
Kyle Jones (CAN) is the last man to qualify his NOC for a spot at the Olympics. Hungary’s Tamas Toth is next man nipping at his heels for that spot. To overtake Jones as points stand today, he needs a 23rd place finish in Yokohama. But as Jones needs only a top 50 finish to stay ahead of Toth in that scenario, Toth will need to keep a good 6-8 men in front of Jones. For example, if Jones were to come in 15th in Yokohama, Toth needs to finish ninth to make his Olympic aspirations a reality.
Diogo Sclebin, Andrew Yorke, Luciano Taccone, Ron Darmon, Rodrigo Gonzalez, Miguel Arraiolos, Bryan Keane and Jones have snatched up the final eight ranking positions. Toth, Jason Wilson, Wian Sullwald, Tyler Mislawchuk, Thomas Springer, Manuel Huerta, Alois Knabl, Lukas Hollaus and Yuichi Hosoda are the next men in line that have any possibility to qualify. Bottom line – to keep it safe, the currently qualified need to keep those wanting to be qualified as far from the podium as possible.
Just like the men, the last seven women risk the danger of slipping off the qualification list. The next seven women after Mariya Shorets need to perform mightily, but no doubt that’s exactly what they intend to do. So who is currently tucked into those final spots? That would be Anastasia Abrosimova, Zsofia Kovacs, Claire Michel, Simone Ackerman, Sarah-Anne Brault, Katrie Verstuyft, and Shorets.
Who wants in? Lisa Norden, Cecilia Gabriela Perez Flores, Julia Houser, Paula Findlay, Maike Caelers, Laura Lindemann, and Amelie Kretz. Like the men, keep in mind that some of those athletes need only beat out their continental competitors, so every athlete has a different goal come Yokohama.
Only eight nations, on both the men’s and women’s side, have the opportunity to send three athletes to the Olympics, which quota of athletes possibly in Rio. So not only are athletes racing to get themselves to Copacabana Beach, they are competing for their country to have as many athletes as possible race along one of the world’s most famous beaches. In this case, more is more.
On the men’s side, the US is the sixth country to have three slots, followed by Mexico and Portugal. Canada, South Africa, Austria and Germany are the most severe threats to Mexico and Portugal, in that order. For Canada to become a three-man team, Tyler Mislawchuk needs, at minimum, a 15th place finish – and that is assuming Portugal’s Miguel Arraoilos finishes outside the top 33. In the same vein, Wian Sullwald needs at least a 14th place finish to get to the Olympic Games.
On the women’s side, New Zealand is currently the seventh nation to secure three athletes, while Russia follows as the final country. Austria is angling to get Julia Hauser as its third athlete, followed by Canada. Hauser needs a time in at least the top 22 to clench that third spot over Russia’s Mariya Shorets, assuming Shorets doesn’t finish higher than 35th.
Just one spot is open for the women, while the men have yet to name three men to the US team meaning qualification all comes down to Yokohama. Automatic selection is set at a competitive top-3 finish, after which the US will select its athletes based on its own ranking system. The German women also have automatic qualification available if they finish in the top 8.
Find more details about this event - 2016 ITU World Triathlon Yokohama