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Olympic Spots Up for Grabs in Yokohama

Olympic qualification battle, superfoods for endurance athletes, and bike buying blueprint?

Good morning everyone,

It’s been a few easier days after the weekend’s race. My body is trying to tell me not to push it after a very intense effort, and this time I am listening! I’ve got some time until the next one so I’ll start building for that one soon.

  • But no backing off on writing the newsletter - we’re always full tilt Tempo!

In today’s edition:

  • 🔥 Olympic dreams on the line at WTCS Yokohama.

  • 🥬 Superfoods for endurance athletes.

  • 🚲And a bike buying blueprint?

Thanks for being here.

-Matt Sharpe, newsletter editor

Headshot of Matt Sharpe

Have a triathlete in your life who can't stop swimming, biking, or running? Fire this off to them. Forwarded from a friend? Sign-up for free. 

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ONE BIG THING

Olympic Qualifying Battle Rages on at WTCS Yokohama

Satoshi Takaski

What is it: After the disappointing cancellation of March’s World Triathlon Champion Series (WTCS) event in Abu Dhabi, athletes will be anxious to hit the start line at next week’s first round of the WTCS in Yokohama, Japan. 

  • For some, it’s a season-opening fitness gauge.

  • For others, a do-or-die race that will decide their Olympic fate.

Women to watch: Flora Duffy (BER) will be making her return to racing after missing last season due to injury. Typically she is one of the athletes who is a “gamechanger” and can have a significant impact due to her aggressive racing style. Will she be attacking the race in typical Duffy fashion? Or will she be holding her cards close?

  • Leonie Periault (FRA) is presumably the third athlete for the host country, France. But her hold on that spot is tenuous as she sits close to the third spot-cutoff and the athletes behind her are closing in. A bad race in Yokohama leaves little margin of error if she wants to compete at a historic home Olympics.

The Australian women are guaranteed two spots in Paris, with Sophie Linn looking like she has earned a place with her emphatic win in at the World Cup in Napier. But the second spot is wide open with Tokyo Olympian Jaz Hedgeland, Charlotte McShane, and Natalie Van Coevordon needing to put up a serious result to be considered for Paris.

Men on the move: The final spot on the French Olympic team is arguably one of the most compelling storylines of this race. Vincent Luis is a 2x World Champion looking to compete in his fourth Games, but is coming in off the back of serious injuries for most of 2023. The incredibly consistent Leo Bergere should have been a shoo-in for selection as the 2022 World Champion, but now finds himself fighting for his home Olympic dream.

  • Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) is an Olympic stalwart with a full set of medals looking to compete in his fourth games. But with recent inconsistency, he will have to show why he deserves another shot at the big show, and why he should be selected ahead of the incredibly talented, Hugo Milner. 

USA selection drama: Other than Taylor Knibb and Morgan Pearson, every U.S. athlete who is on the start line in Yokohama will have the opportunity to earn automatic selection to Paris by finishing in the top 3.

  • The men will only have two spots in Paris. Olympic silver medalist Kevin McDowell, Matt Mcelroy, Seth Rider, and Darr Smith will be battling for the podium, and a reason for the Olympic selectors to pick them should they not hit a top 3.

The U.S. women will face the most competitive selection battle of all the countries. Kirsten Kasper, Taylor Spivey, Summer Rappaport, and 2016 gold medalist, Gwen Jorgenson will obliterate themselves to claim that podium and a ticket to Paris.

  • And, as recently revealed by Jorgenson, it may be her only chance to prove Olympic form as she has been swapped out of the final WTCS used for Olympic consideration so that Katie Zaferes will have an opportunity to prove herself to selectors.

Tempo’s take: Not too long ago I was one of the athletes toeing the line at crucial Olympic qualifying events. It is incredibly stressful and exhilarating at the same time, and with the pressure on we truly get to see who rises to the occasion and deserves to compete at the highest stage.

  • I’m looking forward to being on the ground in Yokohama as I will be supporting my wife, Kirsten in her bid for Olympic selection.

The news around swapping out Gwen for Katie is definitely controversial, and I don’t envy the folks who had to decide because it is incredibly hard. Why do I think they did it?

  • Ultimately, Katie has performed better than Gwen in WTCS events, which are more indicative of Olympic-level competition and race dynamics.

Do I think they should have swapped Gwen out? No. She made many good racing decisions and ultimately earned the points to be on the start line. But Katie has vindicated a tough USA Triathlon decision before, so she will certainly try to make the most of her opportunity.

Are you excited to follow the Olympic Qualification races?

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FAVORITES

🥬 Athlete superfoods: Everyone knows Kale is a superfood that is great for endurance athletes. But what actually makes a food “super”? Being nutritionally dense. Here are 10 other superfoods that are great for endurance athletes. [GTN]

🚲 Bike buying blueprint? Triathletes carry the stereotype of maybe spending a bit too much on the latest gear. So if you’re looking for a new bike, will buying an old TT bike be faster than a road bike with clip-on bars? This thread has some answers. [Reddit]

🌊 Water quality whirlwind: With unsafe water quality devastating more and more races, British Triathlon and other water sports have created the Clean Water Sports Alliance to advocate for safer training and racing venues. Meanwhile across the English Channel, French officials have inagurated the Austerlitz Basin, a massive water storage basin that will help clean up the Seine in time for the Olympics.

🥊 Iron will: Bob Knuckey, a 76-year-old IRONMAN World Champion isn’t letting a recent bike crash derail his latest World Championship attempt this December in New Zealand. Knuckey says he still has “plenty of time to get ready for Worlds.” [Triathlon Magazine]

REEL TIME

“It’s inspiring!” 👀🤣

RACE WEEKEND

IRONMAN 70.3 St. George - North American Championships

The third race in the IRONMAN Pro Series may not shift the points around too much, but there will be plenty of 🔥 action on hand.

What we’re watching 👇

  • Whether Sam Long (USA) who has had an incredible run of podium performances at Miami/Singapore T100, and 70.3 Oceanside will show any signs of slowing down.

  • If Jeannie Metzler can repeat her incredible win last year, or if Paula Findlay will use her early season form to crush the competition.

  • How full distance IRONMAN competitors like Cam Wurf (AUS) will compare to 70.3 specialists like Jackson Laundry (CAN).

How to watch: Saturday, 6AM local time - Outside Watch in the U.S. and proseries.ironman.com in the rest of the world.

IRONMAN Australia

What we’re watching 👇

  • If Dede Griesbauer (USA) can become the oldest athlete to podium in a pro race at 53!

  • Who will take the inter-Aussie battle between reigning champ Steve McKenna, Tim Van Berkel, and Sam Appleton.

QUICK NEWS

Norman battles on: After winning her fourth world title in 2023 para-triathlete Grace Norman is looking for gold in Paris. [WTRF]

Future athletes: The Turkish Triathlon Federation aims to cultivate love for triathlon among children, and now the EU will support them in their goal! [Daily Sabah]

Paid to tri: Challenge Family has partnered with Muuvr to offer their products on the revolutionary fitness platform that rewards training. [Challenge]

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