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Five of the six U.S. Olympic team spots have been decided after Saturday’s ITU World Triathlon Series race in Yokohama.
Joe Maloy, Greg Billington and Ben Kanute all met the qualification standards to compete in the Olympic Games this summer in Rio after Saturday’s WTS Yokohama race.
Maloy led the way for the U.S. men in Yokohama, finishing 11th and confirming his nomination to the men’s U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team as the top-ranked man in the USA Triathlon Objective Rankings System.
“I really didn’t think about it too much [during the race]. I was just thinking of catching the guys in front of me. But there was definitely a moment, probably around 5k to go, where I realized if you just hold on and you keep moving, you’re going to get your ticket,” Maloy said. “You dream of this situation in your head: You’re running and you realize you’re going to make the Olympics. And realize a lifelong dream.”
Kanute posted a season-best 17th place to earn his Olympic qualification. He led the field coming out of the water and while the men’s race unfolded much like the women’s in that most of the field was riding in one large pack, Kanute was also the first athlete out of transition. Though he lost some ground on the run, he finished high enough to improve his score in the Objective Rankings System and move into the third position, qualifying for the team.
“I came into the race, and I just had a good feeling. Today I felt really good, and I just had a checklist in my mind of things I wanted to do during the race,” Kanute said. “I checked off the swim pretty early on; I was right where I wanted to be. And the bike I kind of had fun with. I pretended it was a group ride at home, just stayed toward the front and put myself in a good position for the run. You know, the run I’ve been working on for the past few years now, and I’ve had good runs and I’ve had awful runs. And today, I just really wanted to go out and be able to run my best, and I felt like I was really able to do that. I set myself up to do that, too. I was just happy I was able to go out and run solid.”
Billington, who led the Objective Rankings System entering the race, did not finish on Saturday but still had enough points to retain a top-two position in the rankings and qualify. It will be the first Olympic berth for all three U.S. men.
Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah True both earned their spots with their finishes at last August’s Rio Test Event, leaving one spot available on the women’s team heading into Yokohama. No other American woman (not counting the already-qualified Gwen Jorgensen) finished on the podium in Yokohama. As the top-ranked woman in the Objective Rankings System, it appears Katie Zaferes is the logical choice to be confirmed for the final spot.
According to the press release from USA Triathlon, that slot will be finalized after an evaluation of the domestique or “team player” scenario, which is written into the selection criteria as a possible option prior to the Objective Rankings System being confirmed.
The men will race in Rio on Aug. 18 and the women are scheduled to race Aug. 20, with the main venue set at Copacabana Beach.