Beijing Spotlight: Team USA

Beijing Spotlight: Team USA

By ITU Admin on 13/08/08 at 12:00 am

Team USA was in Beijing for a few days, long enough to check out their surroundings, and march in the opening ceremonies.  The team left Beijing for a week-long training camp in Jeju, South Korea but will return to Beijing on August 15 for the big races on August 18 and 19.

USA Triathlon offers a glimpse back at the qualification process and a sneak peak at what to expect in Beijing on August 18 and 19:

It wasn’t without drama, that’s for sure. The 2008 U.S. Olympic Team selection process actually started in 2006, as athletes jockeyed for points in ITU events around the world. These precious points were the key factor in determining which athletes would even be able to partake in the three qualifying events set for late 2007 and early 2008.

Jarrod Shoemaker shocked the triathlon world by finishing as the top American at the Beijing world cup, leaving Olympians Hunter Kemper and Andy Potts, red hot Matt Reed, and another handful of athletes to battle it out for the remaining two slots. Beijing proved that the third time was the charm for Laura Bennett—who just missed the teams in 2000 and 2004 - as she finished as the top American woman.

The 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, saw Reed and Julie Ertel punch their tickets to Beijing, but new U.S. citizen Reed soon found out his spot was in jeopardy when the U.S. men slipped down the world rankings. He produced an amazing run of finishes during May and June to secure that final team slot and his own position on the team. Ertel, who had a stellar 2007 with wins at USAT Elite Nationals, the Pan American Games, and the Cancun world cup, earned her second Olympic appearance, but first in triathlon. She won a silver medal in 2000 on the U.S. water polo team.

More drama unfolded in June as a flood swept through Des Moines, Iowa, threatening the ITU Hy-Vee World Cup, the last qualifying event. But the waters receded in time, and beautiful weather on race day paved the way for great races from Hunter Kemper and Sarah Haskins to round out the Olympic Team. Kemper, who had been hampered by injuries since early 2007, was clearly emotional as he crossed the line and realized he had become the first three-time U.S. Olympic triathlete. Haskins, a school teacher just five years ago, realized a childhood dream by making her first Olympic team.  Andy Potts and Becky Lavelle were named the team replacements. 

Now the attention turns to China, where this team of three U.S. women and three U.S. men will battle the world for Olympic gold. On August 8, Kemper and Ertel were named captains of the U.S. triathlon Olympic team.  The races are set for August 18 (women) and August 19 (men), with 55 men and 55 women set to compete on the 1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run course. 

The men will line up on the Beijing pontoon at 10am (all times UTC/GMT +8 hours).  Click here for start times in your area.  The elite women’s race will go on Monday August 18 at 10am Beijing time.  Click here for start times in your area

The U.S. is one of just five countries to field a full team of six. Who will be the key athletes and countries to watch? As always, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Switzerland, Canada and Germany will field teams full of medal contenders.

Click here for the ITU’s Official Olympic website for the latest Olympic news


Bennett proudly carries the stars and stripes after earning the first spot on the U.S. Olympic team


An emotional Hunter Kemper after taking the final men’s Olympic spot at the ITU Hy-Vee World Cup earlier this year

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