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2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Spots Up For Grabs In One Month

The 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event is set for Aug. 2, and at least 12 Americans are expected to toe the line.

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USA Triathlon released the following easy-to-follow guide about U.S. qualification for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event is set for Aug. 2, and at least 12 Americans are expected to toe the line in search of individual and team spots in the first qualification opportunity for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.

The World Olympic Qualification Event, which serves as the Olympic test event for next year’s competition, will be centered at Copacabana Beach and Avenida Atlantica. The elite women are set to race at 8 a.m. ET (9 a.m. local time) on Aug. 2, with the elite men to follow at 11:15 a.m. ET (12:15 p.m. local time). The top-three finishers in each race will earn a spot that helps their respective National Federations earn country spots to field a team for the 2016 Olympic Games triathlon, set for Aug. 18 and 20, 2016.

For U.S. athletes, the event also has individual qualification implications.

Qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team

The Rio World Olympic Qualification Event is the first individual qualifier for Americans vying for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team. The top two U.S. finishers in the top eight overall automatically earn a spot on the team.

Only two spots are available for qualification at the Olympic test eventif three U.S. athletes finish in the top eight, only the top two will qualify. If two athletes qualify in Rio, the third spot will be available at a yet-to-be-determined event held between March and May 2016; no additional qualifying opportunities will take place in 2015. If one or no athletes qualify in Rio, one spot will be available at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago, held in the city’s Grant Park on Sept. 18-19, provided the athlete finishes in the top eight overall.

Breakdown of available spots for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team

Aug. 2 – 2015 Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event
Two spots available; top-eight finish required

Sept. 18-19 – 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago (World Championships)
One spot available (only if two spots are not filled at the Aug. 2 event); top-eight finish required

Spring 2016 (March-May) – Yet-to-be-determined U.S. qualification event
One spot available; finish requirement dependent on event level
WTS event: top-three finish required
World Cup event: top-three finish required if Quality of Field* is 16 percent or better; victory required if QoF is less than 16 percent
Continental Cup: victory required
*Quality of field is defined by ITU: every athlete ranked in the top 20 of the current ITU Points list who starts the race will increase the value of the race by 2 percent up to a maximum of 20 percent per event.

If spots still remain open after these three qualification events:
One spot may be allocated as a domestique selection
Any remaining spots will be allocated through a USA Triathlon Objective Rankings System, based on performances at five international events

Outlook for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team

Since triathlon has been held in the Olympic Games, beginning with the Sydney 2000 debut, the field has been comprised of 55 men and 55 women. Only eight nations are able to qualify a maximum of three athletes per gender; all other nations will field teams with two or fewer athletes per gender. In 2000, 2004 and 2008, the U.S. qualified for the maximum team size – three men, three women. In 2012, the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team had three women and two men.

Heading into the 2016 Olympic Games, the U.S. is in a better position to qualify three athletes per gender in comparison to the last Olympiad. Based on the Rio 2016 Olympic Qualification List rankings alone (as of July 1), the U.S. would be the first nation to qualify three women and the fifth nation to qualify three men. The rankings are one way for Americans to secure the three team spots for the United States; the U.S. may also solidify team spots with a win at the Pan American Games on July 11-12 or podium finishes at the Rio World Olympic Qualification Event on Aug. 2. Four additional continental qualifiers (Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania) also play a role in determining team size for other National Federations in those respective regions.

Forty nations are expected to have representation during the 2016 Olympic Games triathlon, but only three nationsUnited States, Great Britain, Australiaare projected to have full six-person teams based on ITU’s current Olympic Simulation. More on the current rankings, the Olympic Qualification List and the Olympic Simulation can be found at triathlon.org/rankings.

With six events completed on the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Series (WTS) circuit, the U.S. women are leading the way for Olympic qualification and world championship titles. An American woman has finished on the podium in all six WTS races, including two U.S. podium sweeps from the women at series stops in Gold Coast and London. The U.S. women have won 12 of 18 available medals in the first six races, owning two-thirds of the overall WTS medal haul so far this season, and have also earned a medal in three of the four World Cup races held so far in 2015.

Who from the U.S. will compete in the Olympic test event?

For U.S. athletes to earn a place on the start list for the World Olympic Qualification Event or World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago, USA Triathlon uses an objective system of measurement that accounts for top performances in Olympic-distance competition and athletes’ ITU Points List scores. Based on this system, the following U.S. elite women are expected to compete in Rio on Aug. 2:

Gwen Jorgensen: five wins in five WTS starts (Abu Dhabi, Auckland, Gold Coast, Yokohama, London); 10 consecutive WTS wins dating back to May 2014; 2014 ITU World Champion, 2012 Olympian
Katie Zaferes: five medals in five WTS starts (silver in Abu Dhabi, Auckland, Cape Town, London; bronze in Gold Coast)
Sarah True: silver medal at WTS Gold Coast, bronze at WTS London; top-nine WTS finishes in Abu Dhabi and Auckland; 2012 Olympian
Lindsey Jerdonek: two top-eight WTS finishes in Abu Dhabi and Gold Coast
Renée Tomlin: fourth at WTS Yokohama, winner of Chengdu ITU World Cup
Kirsten Kasper: sixth at WTS Cape Town, third at Huatulco ITU World Cup

The U.S. elite men will earn starts based on their position on the ITU points list, with the following six athletes expected to race in Rio on Aug. 2:

Jarrod Shoemaker: 12th at WTS Cape Town, 2008 Olympian
Joe Maloy: 10th at New Plymouth ITU World Cup, 20th at WTS Auckland
Kevin McDowell: third at Chengdu ITU World Cup, fourth at Huatulco ITU World Cup, 16th at WTS Cape Town; 2010 Youth Olympic Games silver medalist
Ben Kanute: ninth at WTS Auckland
Greg Billington: seventh at Chengdu ITU World Cup, 17th at WTS Yokohama
Hunter Kemper: fourth at Chengdu ITU World Cup, third at Monterrey CAMTRI Championships; four-time Olympian

RELATED – 2016 Olympics Update: Where The U.S. Stands