By Chelsea White on 19/10/15 at 5:00 pm
After eight months of racing covering eight host cities from all across the globe, the World Cup circuit descends upon its final destination in Korea for the 2015 Tongyeong ITU Triathlon World Cup. As the last race of the ITU season, athletes have one last chance to gain Olympic qualification points to add to their 2015 tally. To do so they will have to conquer the standard-distance course that is set to offer up a challenging 1.5km two-lap swim, followed by 40km on the bike with two steep hills on each of the five laps and will finish up with a four-lap 10km run.
Ai Ueda (JPN) is set to wear the No. 1 for the women’s field that will start out the weekend. She has had a phenomenal season, and has been on a successful streak as of late. After ending the WTS season with a top 10 finish at the Chicago Grand Final, she followed it up with a Cozumel World Cup victory. Then last weekend she was awarded the silver medal at the 2015 Adelaide ITU Duathlon World Championships. She also finished second in Tongyeong last year, so a win on Saturday would a perfect way to end her ITU season.
Japanese compatriots Yuka Sato, Yuri Ide and Yuko Takahashi are also high on the women’s roster. Sato had a strong showing in Cozumel when she led out of the swim, so expect her to be in the front of the pack in the water. Ide had a season best when she placed 10th at the Grand Final, while Takahashi finished just outside the podium in Cozumel when she took fourth.
Austria’s Lisa Perterer is a name looking for a comeback. She has been battling an injury this season that has seen her with setbacks during competitions, but she has shown improvements in the latter part of the year, so it is only a matter of time before she gets back on the World Cup podium.
Yuliya Yelistratova (UKR) enters Tongyeong coming off a victory from the Alanya World Cup, so adding a second consecutive win would allow the Ukrainian to finish the year strong.
Last weekend in the Alanya World Cup, Lisa Norden had to pull out of the race. But the Swede has been battling this season to regain her fully recovered race strength. She placed fifth overall in Cozumel earlier this month, so she is fully capable of making some real moves in Tongyeong to cap off the year.
With everyone looking to cash in on as many Olympic qualification points as they can before the year is over, it is possible no one would like to make a Rio 2016 showing more than Brazil’s own Pamella Oliveira.
The men’s race is chock-full of talent that will ensure an entertaining way to end the ITU season.
When the Polyanskiy brothers toe the line in Tongyeong this weekend, it will mark the 13th race and second World Cup that they have competed in together this season. Younger brother Igor Polyanskiy (RUS) tops the start list for the final World Cup having been the only athlete on the roster to have earned a 2015 World Cup victory, which was Tiszaujvaros back in August. He was also the silver medallist at the Aquathlon World Championships in Chicago.
Dmitry Polyanskiy (RUS) follows right behind Igor on the record. He has a good standing in Tongyeong as he won back-to-back titles in the South Korean city in 2011 and 2012.
Hungary’s Gabor Faldum has been on a roll lately, after securing podium positions in his last two World Cup races that he contended. After earning a silver in Tiszy and a bronze in Cozumel, the only medal colour he is missing is gold.
USA stacks the Tongyeong start list with the most presence of any National Federation with five men set to compete. Joe Maloy, Ben Kanute and Jarrod Shoemaker hold the top spots for the compatriots. Maloy had a season personal best after he finished seventh in Cozumel earlier this month, while Kanute hasn’t competed since the Chicago Grand Final when he had a standout performance. Kanute is also the only returning athlete from the Tongyeong podium last year where he earned the silver.
Greg Billington and Eric Lagerstrom are the other Americans who are also stepping up in Korea after both taking some time off of competing. Billington has been out since WTS Stockholm, while Lagerstrom’s last race was at WTS Edmonton. With all three Olympic spots still up for grabs for the U.S. men, every single qualification point will matter when the decision for who will go to Rio 2016 is on the line.
Another World Cup champion marking the line is Mexican Irving Perez. He earned the Huatulco title back in June and also took home the bronze at the Toronto Pan American Games. He also will have the hopes of gaining more points that will secure his spot to represent Mexico at the Olympic Games next summer.
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