It was a disappointing day for many Americans, but Summer Rappaport executed a well-rounded race to earn her first Olympic berth.
Summer Rappaport, 28, qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team at the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event at Odaiba Marine Park, the first auto-selection opportunity for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Rappaport was seventh across the finish line, but was officially listed as the fifth-place finisher after both the winner and the runner-up were disqualified after the race.
Athletes covered an Olympic-distance 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, and then a shortened 5-kilometer run. The run was shortened from a 10K to 5K by International Triathlon Union officials due to high “Heat Stress Indicator” levels in the Tokyo heat and humidity.
World No. 1 Katie Zaferes was involved in a bike crash early in the 40k ride and did not finish. Kirsten Kasper, also involved in the crash, resumed her ride and finished in the chase pack. Taylor Spivey, in the lead pack off the bike, was overtaken by Rappaport and other competitors in the final stretch of the run.
Per USA Triathlon Olympic selection criteria, two athletes would qualify if both finished in the top three. If one was in the top three and another was in the top eight, then both would also qualify. If no one reached the podium, only the single highest-ranking athlete in the top eight would earn a spot, thus even with the official eighth-place finish Spivey does not qualify at this time. She, Zaferes and the rest of the U.S. women’s triathletes will have their next shot at the Olympic team next May at the WTS Yokohama event.
Most of the drama took place after the race as both first-place finisher Jessica Learmonth and second-place finisher Georgia Taylor-Brown (both of Great Britain) were disqualified on the official results for a violation of ITU rule 2.11.f when they crossed the finish line holding hands. The rules states, “Athletes who finish in a contrived tie situation, where no effort to separate their finish times has been made, will be DSQ.”
While it doesn’t directly affect the U.S. qualification situation, it does have an impact on other country’s Olympic qualification scenarios. Check back to Triathlete.com as we continue to follow up on this developing story.
The U.S. men race for Olympic qualification in the elite men’s race, set for Thursday, Aug. 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET (Friday at 7:30 a.m. local time).