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San Diego ITU WCS Race To Serve As U.S. Olympic Qualifier

Next year's races, scheduled for May 12-13, 2012, will serve as the second of two qualifier events to determine the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men's and Women's Triathlon Team.

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The final American qualifiers for the 2012 London Olympics could be decided on American soil.

See the press release from USA Triathlon below:

It was announced today that the International Triathlon Union (ITU) has approved USA Triathlon and the city of San Diego to serve as hosts for the sport’s premier Olympic-distance series in May 2012. Pending final approval of the race course by local communities, San Diego – the birthplace of triathlon – will welcome the world’s top triathletes as one of eight stops on the ITU World Championship Series (WCS).
Next year’s races, scheduled for May 12-13, 2012, will serve as the second of two qualifier events to determine the 2012 U.S. Olympic Men’s and Women’s Triathlon Team. The event also will play a key role in determining the Olympic squads for a number of other nations, as it is the second-to-last WCS event prior to the closing of the ITU’s 2012 Olympic qualification window at the end of next May.

Who will join Gwen Jorgensen and Sarah Groff at the 2012 London Olympics? Photo: Paul Phillips

One-hundred and fifty of the world’s fastest triathletes – 75 elite men and 75 elite women – will compete in the draft-legal, Olympic-distance race (1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run) contested at Mission Bay. The venue is adjacent to Fiesta Island, which hosted the world’s first-ever triathlon on Sept. 25, 1974.

In conjunction with the WCS event, top-flight Olympic- and sprint-distance age-group races will be contested with a total of up to 3,000 amateurs competing in the same venue as the world’s best athletes. Age-group athletes will be able to register for the races later this month. An expo and festival also will be held May 10-11, 2012, as part of the lead-up to the race weekend. Admission for spectators is free and open to the public all week.

USA Triathlon will produce the event alongside the Hamburg, Germany-based UpSolut Sports AG and Lagardere Unlimited. The San Diego Sports Commission, the City of San Diego and the San Diego Triathlon Club have partnered with USA Triathlon to assist in bringing this world-class event to the city.

“We are thrilled to bring the world’s top triathletes to the very city which gave birth to our sport,” said Rob Urbach, USA Triathlon CEO. “Southern California is a triathlon mecca and the perfect venue to host annual elite and age-group races as part of the ITU World Championship Series. On behalf of USA Triathlon, I’d like to thank the City of San Diego and all of the local organizing entities for making this event possible, as well as UpSolut and Lagardere Unlimited for partnering with us to produce these races.”

“We are delighted and thrilled to welcome San Diego as part of the 2012 ITU Triathlon World Championship Series. As we near the 2012 Olympic Games, bringing the world’s premier triathlon series to the sport’s birthplace will showcase triathlon in a very special way. The ITU is confident the City of San Diego and USA Triathlon will deliver a spectacular event for not only the World Champions and Olympians, but also for the many age-group athletes who will be keen to race in San Diego alongside those World Champions and Olympians,” said Marisol Casado, ITU President and International Olympic Committee Member.

Next year’s event will be just the second WCS race hosted in the U.S. and the first since the 2009 Washington, D.C., event. Founded in 2009, the ITU World Championship Series is an innovative series that allows the world’s top elite athletes to compete head-to-head throughout the year. Expanding upon the previous single-day World Championship, the format features seven regular-season events and then culminates with a Grand Final race in which men’s and women’s overall champions are crowned.

The elite women’s and men’s WCS races from San Diego will be broadcast live to an international television audience and streamed online live. In 2011, the series was broadcast in more than 160 countries. The official event website for the 2012 ITU WCS-San Diego is Sandiego.triathlon.org.

“Having the opportunity to compete in a World Championship Series event and host the second 2012 Olympic qualifier on our home soil is a dream come true,” said three-time U.S. Olympian Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.). “This race will be a fantastic opportunity to showcase to a U.S. audience the draft-legal style of racing and the amazing athletes who compete on the ITU circuit in advance of the London Games.”

“The San Diego Sports Commission is excited to work with the ITU and all of its partners to bring an event of this caliber to San Diego. The community is thrilled and the appetite for triathlon in America’s Finest City is immense,” said Alan Kidd, President, San Diego Sports Commission.

The first two spots on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team were claimed by Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.) at the Olympic Test Event in London on Aug. 6, as part of the 2011 ITU WCS.