Home > News

Olympic selection surprise picks? France and USA announce teams for Paris

Tough decisions for selectors make for some surprise picks for the Olympics this summer

Photo by: Kevin Mackinnon

As we gear up for the Games in Paris, Olympic selection has become a hot topic, especially for some of the power house countries who have a number of athletes who could be seen as viable medal contenders. Over the next few weeks we’ll have a clearer picture of what the final start list for Paris as countries announce their teams. There are three selections that have excited triathlon fans more than others – the selection of the women’s team for the US (five potential choices for two spots), the men’s team for France (four men, including three world champions, vying for three spots) and both the men’s (three reasonable choices for one spot) and women’s (three really strong choices for two spots) teams for Great Britain. Today we got the word on two of those selections.

Katie Zaferes makes life difficult for the American Olympic selection committee … and more Olympic drama from Cagliari

Team USA

Photo: USA Triathlon

USA Triathlon had two athletes who had met the preselection criteria –  Taylor Knibb and Morgan Pearson both finished sixth at the Paris Test Event last year ensured she’ll be heading to Paris this summer. That left Taylor Spivey, Kirsten Kasper, Gwen Jorgensen and Katie Zaferes all in the hunt for the final two spots on the women’s team.

Today USA Triathlon announced that it would be Spivey and Kasper who would join Knibb on the American team in Paris. In 2021 the selection committee chose Zaferes over Spivey for the Tokyo Games, which turned out to be a good call as Zaferes would win the bronze medal in the individual race and help the American team take silver in the mixed relay. After the final WTCS race in the qualification window in Cagliari it looked as though Zaferes might turn selectors eyes again as she finished ahead of Kasper, but the selectors ended up going with the woman who sits higher in the Olympic qualification ranking.

For the men the selectors chose Seth Rider as the second member of the team. Both Rider and Pearson are well behind Matthew McElroy in the World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Ranking. McElroy finished ahead of Rider in Cagliari and Yokohama, too. Presumably the selection committee went with Rider with the idea of bolstering the mixed relay team.

Team France

Both Cassandre Beaugrand and Pierre Le Corre had met France’s qualifying standards, so we knew they would be named to the team. Emma Lombardi was pretty much a shoe in for one of the women’s spots, with Leonie Periault being the next logical choice, especially after her huge win at WTCS Yokohama.

The men’s choice, though, could not have been remotely fun. Since Le Corre had met the qualification criteria of a top-six finish in Cagliari, he was on the team, which meant selectors had to choose between three world champions for the final two spots. Adding to the fun was the status of the reigning world champ, Dorian Coninx, who broke his wrist and elbow in a crash in Yokohama. Also in the mix were Leo Bergere, the 2022 world champ and the man at the top of the Olympic ranking, and two-time world champ Vincent Luis, who has been on the comeback trail this year after an Achilles injury and had two top-10 finishes in Yokohama and Cagliari.

In the end the French selectors went with Coninx and Bergere.