By Brad Culp on 22/06/10 at 9:06 pm
Today ITU announced the Gold Group members for the second part of the Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series. The group of 20 athletes includes established triathlon legends as well as emerging new superstars.
New additions to the group on the men’s side include Russia’s Alexander Brukhankov and Australian Brad Kahlefeldt. Brukhankov has burst onto the scene this year as one of the most promising triathletes in the world. After finishing 2nd in Sydney, 5th in Seoul and 10th in Madrid, the 23-year-old Russian is in the driver’s seat of the ITU World Championship rankings, ahead of countryman and fellow Gold Group member Dmitry Polyansky. Kahlefeldt was left out of the initial 2010 Gold Group after finishing 12th in the 2009 world rankings, but a solid 2010 campaign thus far has the Aussie in the group and ranked 7th in the world with four races to go in the Series.
New Gold Group additions on the women’s side include Chile’s Barbara Riveros Diaz, Japan’s Mariko Adachi and Switzerland’s Nicola Spirig. Riveros Diaz, 22, is the current leader of the World Championship Rankings after winning the Series opener in Sydney, finishing 2nd in Seoul and 6th in Madrid.
“It’s such an honour to be selected to the Gold Group,” Riveros Diaz said. “To represent my country and ITU at this level is an absolute dream come true.”
One spot behind the Chilean in the rankings is Japanese upstart Adachi, who finished 4th in Sydney and Madrid and 7th in Seoul. The veteran addition to the group is Swiss-ace Nicola Spirig, who won the Madrid event and currently sits 5th in the world rankings.
ITU established the Gold Group in 2009 as a means of raising the profile of its outstanding athletes and their national federations, and to highlight the stars within the sport. The Gold Group consists of high-performing athletes who will act as the premier athlete ambassadors of ITU, and will encourage the general public and youth to participate in the sport. Members of the Gold Group enjoy the exclusive privilege of securing extra quota spots for their respective countries at all Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series events.
The initial Gold Group for the first three events of the 2010 season was formed by taking the three 2008 Olympic Triathlon medallists (for both men and women) and then adding the next seven highest-ranked athletes from the 2009 world rankings.
The modified Gold Group for the second half of the season includes the six Beijing medallists, the top three men and women from the 2009 world rankings and then next highest-ranked athletes based on the first three Series events of 2010. Athletes who meet these criteria but are not currently ranked in the top 20 of the world rankings may be dropped at ITU’s discretion. Portugal’s Vanessa Fernandes, the Beijing silver medallist, is not included in the modified Gold Group as she is currently ranked outside of the top 20. Additionally, no country may have more than two men or two women in the Gold Group to ensure regional equity.
Members of the Gold Group for the remainder of the 2010 season are: