Over the next few days athletes hoping to compete at next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris will be in that city, looking to nail themselves a spot on their country’s Olympic team in 2024.
There will be 110 triathletes at the Olympics in Paris next year, 55 men and 55 women. France, as the host country, qualifies a team of 2 men and 2 women. Thanks to its runner-up finish (behind already-qualified France) at last year’s Mixed Relay World Championships, Great Britain has also qualified a team 2 men and 2 women. That also goes for this year’s Mixed Relay world champions, Germany, has also qualified a team.
While a country might have qualified athletes, who those athletes are remains up to the various Federations. As mentioned, the Paris Test Event has been designated by some of the Federations as an opportunity for athletes to earn an automatic berth on their country’s Olympic team next year.
While the race serves as a chance to test out the venue, there’s a lot riding on the races over the next few days. A number of countries have designated the race as an individual event qualifier for their teams, including Canada and the United States.
The selection criteria for a number of different countries can be found here. Here are the specifics for Canada and the United States:
– Top 5 at the Test Event or at the Pontevedra Championships Final gives automatic qualification
– If not achieved, two top 12 places at any WTCS during the Olympic qualification period
– The first procedure for automatic selection is in the 2023 Paris Test event. If two athletes get in the podium, the two of them get automatic selection
– If we have one athlete in the podium in the Test event and another athlete in the top 8, both get automatic selection
– If we have no athletes in the podium at the Test Event, an athlete in the Top 8 gets automatic selection
– The second procedure is in the 2023 Pontevedra Championships final. If there are still positions available, we can select one athlete who gets on the podium
The races will be streamed live an on demand on TriathlonLive.tv, but it will be either a very late night or extremely early morning for most in North America. The events are all slated to run at 8 AM CEST, which is 2 AM Eastern time, and 11 PM the night before Pacific time.
- Women’s race – Thursday August 17, 8am CEST
- Men’s race – Friday August 18, 8am CEST
- Para races – Saturday August 19, 8am CEST
- Mixed Relay – Sunday August 20, 8am CEST
As we reported last week, the water quality of the Seine could turn out to put a major damper on the race – if the water is not swimmable, the race will be turned into a duathlon, which will negate Olympic qualifying.
Assuming there is a swim, the races will be run over the “Olympic” or Standard distance – 1,500 m swim, 40 km bike and a 10 km run.
The two-loop swim course goes under the Invalides bridge and features a run up 36 steps to T2. The mostly-flat seven-lap bike course passes some Paris landmarks including the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, the Champs Élysées and the Orsay Museum. Just over a quarter of the course is run over cobblestones, which will add an interesting twist to the racing. The four-lap run course passes by the finish line on the Alexandre III bridge four times.
The Para race is run over the Sprint distance – 750 m swim, 20 km bike and 5 km run. The one-lap swim also goes under the Invalides bridge. The bike course includes a 1.5 km lap, then five 3.7 km laps. The run includes a 1.2 km lap, then two more 1.9 km laps.
Sunday’s mixed relay will include four legs of 300 m swim, 5.8 km bike (32% of the course is on cobblestones) and 1.8 km run.
There will be 65 women and 65 men on the start line for the elite races on Thursday and Friday morning, including most of the Tokyo Olympic medalists. Flora Duffy (BER) is returning from a long injury break as she looks to defend her title next year. Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) is also competing – he’s been balancing some long-course racing with lots of World Triathlon events in order to qualify for the Games next year in as high a position as possible.
Olympic silver medalist Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) won’t be in Paris due to a calf injury, but bronze medalist Katie Zaferes (USA) is in the field, continuing her steady move up the rankings after her maternity leave last year. Relay medalists Taylor Knibb (USA), Cassandra Beaugrand (FRA) and Leonie Periault will also be in the mix. Other women to keep an eye on include France’s Emma Lombardi, fresh off a runner-up finish to Beaugrand at WTCS Sunderland and Great Britain’s Beth Potter, who ran the 10,000 m for her country in Rio and now looks like a good bet to make a second Games in a different sport. The race between the Americans trying to make the team – the afore-mentioned Knibb and Zaferes, Taylor Spivey, Summer Rappaport and Kirsten Kasper – should be fierce.
For the men the field includes both the silver (Alex Yee, GBR) and bronze (Hayden Wilde, NZL) medalists, along with relay medalists Johathan Brownlee (GBR) and France’s Vincent Luis and Dorian Coninx.
Olympic medal experience is no-doubt helpful, but there are lots of other athletes who could compete for a top finish and qualification. Canada’s Tyler Mislawchuk could seal a third Olympic appearance with another Test Event win – he won the Tokyo Test Event in 2019. Defending world champion Leo Bergere would love to represent his country in style with a win this week and a chance to take gold for France next year.
Canadians will be keenly watching two-time Paralympic medalist Stefan Daniel during Saturday’s races – he’s looking to round out his medal collection next year to go along with the silver (Rio) and bronze (Tokyo) he’s earned.
You can see the full start lists below: