In 2019, all Katie Zaferes did was win. The American short course star had an incredible season on the World Triathlon Series (WTS) circuit, storming her way to five wins in eight races on the way to becoming ITU World Champion.
by James Sutherland
Zaferes, a native of Maryland who now resides in California, won WTS stops in Abu Dhabi, Bermuda, Yokohama and Montreal, along with a second-place finish in Leeds, giving her a 755-point lead on Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth heading into the Grand Final in Lausanne.
Despite not needing a win in the August finale, where points are weighted heavier than they are at the other races on the circuit, Zaferes put a stamp on her banner season with another finish atop the podium.
The 30-year-old pulled away from Learmonth down the final 200 metres to grab the gold, capping off one of the best WTS seasons in recent memory. She won the title by 849 points over Learmonth with 6,175, the highest total since the format was introduced in 2009.
The win for Zaferes was a unique one as well, having finished fifth overall in 2015, fourth in 2016, third in 2017, and then second in 2018 before finally winning in 2019.
Her superb campaign did come with its share of adversity, though.
After going on a tear through the first five events of the series, Zaferes crashed in July’s Hamburg race, managing to make her way to the finish line in 35th. The following month, at the Olympic Qualification Event in Tokyo (where 2020 qualification was on the line for the first time), Zaferes suffered another crash, resulting in a broken nose and 23 stitches in her mouth. Her big win at the Grand Final came just two weeks later.
Closing out the year she sits first in the ITU world rankings, the WTS world rankings, and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualification rankings.
Along with her WTS success, Zaferes also won the inaugural Super League Triathlon series title for the 2018-19 season in February, and has had a strong start to the 2019-20 campaign as the points leader through the first two events.
Anne Haug – Despite dealing with injury for much of the year, Germany’s Anne Haug put together a stellar 2019 that culminated with her first Ironman World Championship title in October.
Haug was third in her Kona debut in 2018, and had a strong start to her year with a second-place finish at Ironman 70.3 Dubai in February. Then the former Olympian suffered a tear in her plantar fascia and a stress fracture. The 36-year-old bounced back to win Ironman Copenhagen in August and then became the third-fastest woman in history on the Big Island, winning in Kona in 8:40:10 thanks to a 2:51 marathon.
Lucy Charles-Barclay – Charles-Barclay won the Ironman African Championship, the Challenge Championship, and took Challenge Roth in a full-distance personal best time of 8:31:09, along with fifth at 70.3 Worlds after a controversial drafting penalty.
The 26-year-old then led off the bike in Kona, but was caught on the run by Haug, taking second in Kona for the third year in row.