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Who will represent Canada at the Olympics?

Final weekend of Olympic qualifying sees large Canadian contingent racing in Mexico

Most of the athletes in contention to represent Canada at this year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan will be racing at the World Triathlon Cup Huatulco this weekend, the final chance for athletes to improve their World Triathlon Olympic Ranking. After World Triathlon suspended the Olympic qualifying period last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, things re-opened in May, offering athletes just a few events to try and earn a spot on the start line in Tokyo. Heading into the qualifying period, Triathlon Canada had rejigged its qualifying criteria, all but naming Tyler Mislawchuk and Joanna Brown to the team. At that time, Canada had two men’s spots based on the rankings of Mislawchuk and Matthew Sharpe, but only one women’s spot based on Brown’s ranking.

We wrote about the Canadian trials and tribulations over the Mixed Team Relay – if Canada had finished in the top three in Lisbon, Portugal in the World Triathlon Olympic qualifying event we would have been guaranteed a second women’s spot for Tokyo. After that didn’t happen, Amelie Kretz was left to try and earn Canada a second spot, and a chance to compete in the inaugural Mixed Team Relay at the Olympics, by improving her individual ranking. Thanks to a brilliant sixth-place finish at the World Triathlon Cup Lisbon, she moved herself high enough in the rankings to have earned Canada a second women’s spot. That doesn’t guarantee Kretz a chance to compete at a second Olympics, though. Triathlon Canada gets to select the athletes who will compete, as long as they are in the top 140 of the Olympic ranking.

This weelend’s sprint race features a one-lap swim off Santa Cruz beach, a four-lap, 20 km bike course that features some technical turns and a couple of long straightaways followed by a two-lap run. The races will be streamed live on TriathlonLive.tv – click on the links below for more information.

Elite Women’s Race – Saturday, 18h local time
Elite Men’s Race – Sunday, 8h local time

Mislawchuk leads the way

The 26-year-old from Winnipeg will be wearing race number one this weekend, looking to defend the title he won here in 2019. After a solid swim in Lisbon a couple of weeks ago, Mislawchuk flatted, effectively ending his chances at a top finish. The criteria for the second qualifying spot for the Canadian men’s team is based on both head to head competition, but also the ability to serve as a domestique for Mislawchuk in Tokyo. In Lisbon Alexis Lepage followed a great swim with a hard effort to ensure Mislawchuk got into the main group. Sharpe stayed with Mislawchuk through the bike and tried to help him back to the main bunch after his flat. Both are in the field again in Huatulco this weekend and will likely be aiming to help Mislawchuk to the top of the podium. Those three are the only ones currently ranked in the top 140 of the Olympic ranking – which means that the final spot for Tokyo will come down to either Sharpe or Lepage. Other Canadian men in the field include Jeremy Briand, Charles Paquet and John Rasmussen.

Related: Showdown at WTCS Leeds as Olympic qualifying hits final frenzy

Kretz’s final charge

Amelie Kretz qualified for the 2016 Games in Rio thanks to a top-eight finish in the last possible qualifying event.

A whirlwind around the world tour that saw her start in Yokohama, Japan, head to Portugal, compete in Leeds last weekend and now head to Mexico has put her in a position to head to a second Olympics in 2021. Based on World Triathlon’s latest Olympic simulation, Kretz sits as the 53rd qualifier out of 55 for Tokyo. She might not even need the points, but a solid performance this weekend would certainly solidify the second Canadian spot. With Brown still recovering from a kidney infection that sidelined her after Yokohama, Kretz will be the top-ranked Canadian in the field in Huatulco. There are two other Canadians racing this weekend who could put themselves in a position to compete in Tokyo Dominika Jamnicky sits at 142nd in the Olympic ranking, while Emy Legault is at 149. A big race from either of them could put them into the top 140, making them at least eligible for Tokyo.

After Flora Duffy pulled out of this weekend’s race, Kirsten Kasper, who is engaged to Canadian Olympic hopeful Matthew Sharpe, will be the top-ranked women in the field.