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Olympics

Your Guide to the Tokyo Olympic Women’s Contenders

We rate seven of the top contenders in the women's individual Olympic event so you can follow along.

As we get closer to the start of the Olympic Games, it’s time to take a close look at the women’s contenders for the individual Olympic event. While the men’s field is pretty wide open, the women’s field has a strong group of likely favorites from the dangerous Flora Duffy to to the fleet-footed Georgia Taylor-Brown and Summer Rappaport. With the help of Thorsten Radde, we present seven top contenders for the women’s event and rate their strengths on the swim, bike, and run.

Read on for our expert guide.

Looking for more insight on how draft-legal strategy works and how the race could play out? Check out: Who and What to Watch For in Tokyo

Flora Duffy

Flora Duffy

33 Years Old | Bermuda

Swim: 4/5 | Bike: 5/5 | Run: 4/5

Who She Is: The 2016 and 2017 World Triathlon Series world champion is also a multiple Xterra world champion and a Commonwealth Games winner.

Why She Could Win: Known for her bike strength and handling skills, Duffy isn’t afraid to break away and lead from the front. She’s also proven in recent races that her run is one of the fastest on the circuit.

Why She Might Not: Since her series of five straight wins in 2017, Duffy has dealt with injuries on and off. We haven’t seen much from her over the last two years—but when we have she’s been on the podium or near the front every time.

Overall Performance: 5/5

Georgia Taylor-Brown

Georgia Taylor-Brown

27 Years Old | Great Britain

Swim: 3/5 | Bike: 4/5 | Run: 5/5

Who She Is: A junior championship athlete, she moved up to the World Triathlon Series in 2018 and made her first podiums that year. She may be best known, though, for being DQ’d after crossing the line hand-in-hand with teammate Jess Learmonth at the Tokyo test event.

Why She Could Win: After that erased win in Tokyo in 2019, Taylor-Brown won an abbreviated world championship event in Hamburg in 2020—and appeared to be coming into form during the pandemic year.

Why She Might Not: It’s hard to know what kind of shape she’s in at the moment. Taylor-Brown skipped all the early 2021 races and seems to be nursing some niggles—or could be timing her triumphant return just right.

Overall Performance: 5/5

Jessica Learmonth

Jessica Learmonth

33 Years Old | Great Britain

Swim: 5/5 | Bike: 5/5 | Run: 3/5

Who She Is: A swimmer as a kid, Learmonth picked up triathlon in her 20s after coworkers got her interested in a local race. She was soon a consistent podium performer at World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) races.

Why She Could Win: She was second at the WTCS Leeds race earlier this year and showed that she’s still consistently one of the front-pack swimmers and bikers—and is willing to make a play for a breakaway out of T1.

Why She Might Not: If it comes down to a footrace, there are faster runners in the field. That said, there might not be faster swimmer-biker-runners.

Overall Performance: 5/5

Summer Rappaport

Summer Rappaport

29 Years Old | U.S.A.

Swim: 5/5 | Bike: 2/5 | Run: 5/5

Who She Is: A runner and swimmer in college, Rappaport was recruited to the U.S. tri program after graduating and was the first American to secure her Tokyo spot back in 2019.

Why She Could Win: While her performances can be up and down, she’s consistently one of the top swimmers and can run her way onto the podium—which she did again in the WTCS Yokohama race earlier this year.

Why She Might Not: Not known for her biking, Rappaport is typically found in (or off the back of) the large bike pack. But she has shown repeatedly it doesn’t affect her ability to run her way through the field from T2.

Overall Performance: 3/5

Katie Zaferes

Katie Zaferes

32 Years Old | U.S.A.

Swim: 4/5 | Bike: 4/5 | Run: 4/5

Who She Is: The 2019 world champ is returning to her second Olympics after a dominant 2018 and 2019, but struggled early this year after the sudden death of her father.

Why She Could Win: Zaferes was a favorite going into 2020—but a series of bad races this year left her fighting just to be named to the U.S. team. If she returns to form in time, she’ll be a front pack swimmer, biker, and runner.

Why She Might Not: A 22nd and 18th at the WTCS races in Yokohama and Leeds in May and June didn’t bode well. A solid block of training could turn that around before Tokyo.

Overall Performance: 4/5

Maya Kingma

Maya Kingma

26 years old | The Netherlands

Swim: 4/5 | Bike: 4/5 | Run: 2/5

Who She Is: After winning WTCS Leeds and taking second at WTCS Yokohama this spring, the young Dutchwoman went from underdog to number-one ranked in the world this year.

Why She Could Win: In Yokohama, she proved she has the bike strength and guts to breakaway and build a huge lead. In Leeds, she showed she could run away from the breakaway to cross the line first.

Why She Might Not: Her dominance near the front of the race is still relatively new, so it’s hard to say if she’ll perform under pressure.

Overall Performance: 3/5

Wildcard: Taylor Knibb

Taylor Knibb

23 years old | U.S.A.

Swim: 3/5 | Bike: 4/5 | Run: 2/5

Who She Is: The youngest female triathlete to make the U.S. Olympic team, the former U23 world champ arrived on the senior circuit in style with a breakaway win at WTCS Yokohama in May.

Why She Could Win: She’s already proven she has the bike chops to ride with the best—she also previously broke away with Duffy at a sprint event in Edmonton. Now she’s showing everyone her run is coming along too.

Why She Might Not: It’ll take a specific kind of race in Tokyo for Knibb to get away and stay away. If this year isn’t her year, though, 2024 could be.

Overall Performance: 3/5