The United States’ Taylor Knibb earned an Olympic spot and her first overall WTCS victory, and fellow American Morgan Pearson finished on the podium for the first time to nab an Olympic spot of his own. Read about the emergence of the two American athletes and recap the weekend of racing in this week’s edition of Last Weekend Now.
Despite being the No. 1-ranked athlete in the world, the strong American line-up for the women (by far the strongest in the world) means that 2019 world champ Katie Zaferes is now battling for a spot on the Olympic team.
The women dive in at Yamashita Park for a high-stakes day of racing.
The nine-lap 40K bike course makes for fast technical racing and plenty of opportunities to keep an eye on the competition.
Katie Zaferes spent much of the bike trying to catch up to the leaders. It’s a rare position for Zaferes, who usually comes out of the water near the front and stays there.
Norway’s Solveig Løvseth leads a pack through a sharp turn on course.
The US’s Taylor Knibb apparently used 2020 wisely, emerging from this Yokohama event with her first WTCS win, an Olympic spot, and the potential to podium in Tokyo.
Taylor Spivey (shown here behind Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell) is also fighting for the last spot on the most competitive Olympic team in the sport. She went on to finish fourth and will hope to make her case at one last WTCS race in Leeds on June 5.
Great Britain’s Non Stanford leads USA’s Kristin Kasper and others on the run. Kasper, like Spivey (on Kasper’s left shoulder), is hoping to be picked for that final USA Olympic team spot now that Summer Rappaport and Taylor Knibb have claimed the two automatic slots.
USA’s Summer Rappaport earned her spot at the Tokyo Test Event in 2019. Her second place finish in Yokohama was proof that she’s still more than worthy of her place on the Olympic team.
The day did not play out as Zaferes had hoped. She’s had a rough preparation with her dad passing away unexpectedly in April.
“Resiliency check complete,” she wrote on Instagram. “I always knew this race was going to be challenging, even in the best of circumstances. It was a bit sooner than I was ‘ready’ for, but also something I needed to do. The thing about a place number, no matter what that place is, is that it never reveals the whole journey. Part makes me feel like that’s not me, and another part is so proud of that number. All is there within me, and I know this. So onwards we go as this journey continues.”
Future Olympians! Knibb greets American teammate Rappaport at the finish line. The two went 1-2 on the podium.
The Netherlands’ Maya Kingma, who finished in the final podium spot, greets Knibb at the finish line after the duo broke away on the bike to establish a dominant lead they just held onto on the run.
Soon after the women’s race, the men got their turn to battle it out. Ben Kanute—who has mostly transitioned to half-iron distance racing—is trying to make his second Olympic team. Here he gathers himself before diving in for the 1.5K swim.
The men dive in for 100 minutes of fast and furious racing.
USA’s Eli Hemming was hoping to make a case for himself as a discretionary pick for the team, but suffered a mechanical later in the race.
USA’s Kevin McDowell was one of several American men hoping to finish in the top eight and earn an Olympic spot.
Pearson raced all-out from the gun, coming out of the water 18 seconds off of swim leader Vincent Luis, then keeping himself in the large front pack on the bike and in contention throughout.
Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt leads the front group on his way to the second series win of his career.
Yokohama has delivered tough conditions in the past, but conditions on Saturday were ideal.
The event was not just a test for the athletes; it was also a test for event organizers in Japan, who are working to keep everyone healthy and safe before, during, and after the Olympics.
Blummenfelt laid down a 29:26 10K, the fastest of the day, on his way to the victory.
Great Britain’s Jonathan Brownlee greets teammate Tom Bishop after finishing 23rd and 22nd, respectively. The British men are trying to earn a third spot for the Olympics; right now, they only qualify for two.
Pearson breaks down after realizing that he will be headed to the Olympics. It was especially emotional for Pearson, as he took a month off of training earlier this spring after the sudden death of his brother.
Pearson takes his spot on the podium for the first time.
Pearson (third), Blummenfelt (first), and Belgium’s Jelle Geens (second) stand atop the podium.