In the final women’s Olympic qualifying event for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, Canadaa’s 2016 Rio competitor Amelie Kretz kept her hopes up for another Olympic appearance with a fifth-place finish at the World Triathlon Cup Huatulco race in Mexico. Two other Canadian competitors, Dominika Jamnicky and Emy Legault finished 10th and 13th.
It was a tight race right from the gun as the women hit the 30-degree C water for the 750 m swim. Pre-race favorite Kirsten Kasper (USA) led the way out of the water, with a big group right on her feet – there were 11 women within six seconds as the women ran up the beach to T1. A big group of 20 that included all three Canadians quickly formed on the bike, with a few athletes dropping off each lap until, by the end of the fourth lap, there were 16 together in T2 pulling on their running shoes to hit the two-lap run course.
As she has done in so many of her races in this whirlwind qualifying period, Kretz powered towards the front of the field early in the run. At the end of the first lap she was in fourth, just five seconds behind Denmark’s Alberte Kjaer Pedersen, who was a couple of seconds clear of Austria’s Lisa Perterer, who was two seconds up on Kasper. Pedersen accelerated through the second lap to a clear 13-second win (her first World Cup victory) in 1:00:24, with Kasper outsprinting Perterer for second. Kretz couldn’t hold off the charge from Ecuador’s Elizabeth Bravo, who managed to run herself to fourth (1:00:52), with Kretz rounding out the top five (1:00:57).
Jamnicky took 10th in 1:01:22, while Legault finished 13th in 1:01:37.
Heading into today’s race Kretz was 53rd on the Olympic simulation chart – there are 55 spots available in Tokyo. Earlier today Australia’s Jaz Hedgeland took the Oceania Cup race in Australia, which could have given her enough points to move into the top-30 in the Olympic ranking, which would be enough to qualify a third athlete for Australia, and move Kretz down to 54th in that ranking. South Africa’s Gillian Sanders, who is one spot behind Kretz in the current Olympic simulation, finished second today at the African Triathlon Championships, which might be enough to move her ahead of the Canadian, too. If Kretz does maintain her position, it is not guaranteed that she would be heading to Tokyo – spots are designated to each country’s national governing body, which then decides with athletes will represent them at the Games.