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6 U.S. Triathletes To Compete At Pan American Games

Six U.S. triathletes are set to compete on July 11-12 in pursuit of National Federation quota spots for the Olympics.

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The XVII Pan American Games open this weekend, and six U.S. triathletes are set to compete on July 11-12 in pursuit of National Federation quota spots for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games.

Read the preview from USA Triathlon below:

Races are scheduled to begin at 8:35 a.m. ET both days, with the women racing on Saturday and the men to follow on Sunday. The event features a standard 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run Olympic-distance course, with the action centered at the Ontario Place West Channel along Lake Ontario and Lake Shore Boulevard. Live updates from the event will be available on Twitter at @USATLive and @triathlonlive.

Triathlon is one of 10 events on the Pan American Games program with a direct qualification opportunity for next year’s Olympic Games. The winner of each race in Toronto will secure a team spot for their country. The first individual qualifying opportunity for the Americans is Aug. 2 in Rio de Janeiro. Read more about the basics of Olympic qualification in USA Triathlon’s guide on Usatriathlon.org.

Two-time Pan American Games medalist Sarah Haskins (Clermont, Fla.) leads the way for the U.S. women after winning gold at the event four years ago in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. A 2008 Olympian, Haskins has three wins under her belt this season, including an early season Continental Cup in Clermont, Fla. The U.S. women’s squad also features Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.) and Erin Jones (Hood River, Ore.), who are both making their Pan American Games debut. Burns and Jones both come from a running background and own two top-10 finishes apiece in 2015 ITU events.

In addition to Haskins, five women who finished in the top 10 at the 2011 Pan American Games are on the start list for Saturday: Chile’s Barbara Riveros (2), Brazil’s Pamella Oliveira (3, BRA), Claudia Rivas of Mexico (6), Elizabeth Bravo of Ecuador (7) and Bermuda’s Flora Duffy (8). The complete women’s start list is available at Triathlon.org.

Four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.), another two-time Pan American Games medalist for the U.S., is the veteran competitor for the U.S. men. Kemper won gold at Pan American Games in 2003 and silver in 1999. Eric Lagerstrom (Portland, Ore.) and Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill.) round out the team for the U.S. in their Pan American Games debut. Lagerstrom and McDowell have three top-10 results between them in ITU events this season, and Lagerstrom also earned a win in the non-drafting Escape from Alcatraz on June 7.

Seven men who placed in the top 10 at the 2011 Pan American Games are returning to the start list, including 2011 champion Reinaldo Colucci of Brazil. Other top finishers from 2011 include Puerto Rico’s Manuel Huerta (2 as U.S. competitor), Canadian Kyle Jones (4), Brazil’s Diogo Sclebin (5), Jason Wilson of Barbados (7), Chile’s Felipe Van de Wyngard (8) and Cuba’s Michel Gonzalez (9). The complete men’s start list is available at Triathlon.org.

The U.S. and Canada are tied for the top spot in the triathlon medal count with 10 all-time Pan American Games medals, including five gold, since triathlon made its debut in 1995. Americans swept the top spots in 2007 with Julie Ertel and Andy Potts winning gold in Rio de Janeiro.

Held every four years in the year before the Olympic Games, the Pan American Games are the third largest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games. The history of the Pan American Games dates back to 1951 when the Games were first hosted by Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 2015 Pan American Games mark the 17th celebration of the Pan American Sports Organization event. The U.S. has hosted the event twice, in Indianapolis in 1987 and Chicago in 1959.

Visit Toronto2015.org/triathlon for more details on the event.

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

USA Triathlon Pan American Games Roster – Toronto, Ontario
Women – July 11
Name (Current Residence/Hometown)
Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash./Seattle/Wash.)
Sarah Haskins (Clermont, Fla./St. Louis, Mo.)
Erin Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo./Hood River, Ore.)

Men – July 12
Name (Current Residence/Hometown)
Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo./Orlando, Fla.)
Eric Lagerstrom (San Diego, Calif./Portland, Ore.)
Kevin McDowell (Geneva, Ill./Geneva, Ill.)