By ITU Admin on 23/06/08 at 12:00 am
Sarah Haskins and Hunter Kemper turned in stellar performances at the Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon World Cup in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday to earn the final spots for nomination to the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. It will be Haskins’ first Olympic Games and the third for Kemper, becoming the first American triathlete to qualify for a third Olympics.
Under USA Triathlon’s complex Olympic selection point system, the 27-year old Haskins, who finished sixth overall in the event, earned the spot when Sarah Groff failed to finish as the top American. It’s been an incredible month for Haskins who won silver at the world championships just two weeks ago.
“My main goal was to win that spot. It’s amazing [going to the Olympics]. It’s been my dream since I was a little girl, just to be able to go there and have the opportunity to win a medal. It will be fantastic,” said Haskins who had close to 50 friends and relatives on hand from St. Louis and Minnesota to cheer her on. “The biggest challenge for me was trying to get away on the bike, but it was a rolling course and I couldn’t quite do that. But I was able to get out on the run first and it all came together in the end.” Click here for more on Sarah Haskins
Fellow American Laura Bennett was the top American in Des Moines with a fourth place finish. Bennett earned the first Olympic Team spot last September at the Beijing test event. Haskins and Bennett will be joined on the team by Julie Swail Ertel, who claimed her spot by winning the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in April. She finished as the third American (seventh overall) in Des Moines. The replacement/alternate spot went to Becky Lavelle thanks to her fourth place American finish (eighth overall) on Sunday. Groff finished as the fifth American (ninth overall). Click here for full women’s race review from the Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon World Cup
For the 32-year-old Kemper, qualifying for his third Olympic Games was an emotional culmination of a frustrating past 18 months. After suffering a lower back/hip injury that limited his performances in 2007, he has been battling a hernia issue for most of this season. Click here for more on Hunter Kemper
“I wish I could describe what the road has been like the past year and a half. I’ve been dealing with a lot of injuries. It’s been very difficult. But it all came together today. It’s tremendous. I’m a very blessed boy and I’m doing what God has made me to do. To represent the U.S.A., it doesn’t get any better than that. I’m loving it,” said Kemper, who crossed the finish line draped in an American flag with tears flowing down his face. “There was a lot more on my plate today than trying to get on the podium. I wanted to get back to the Olympic team. It’s tough when you have two races in one. It’s hard to really let loose. You want to take risks, but you don’t want to fall back.”
Kemper not only did what he had to do to earn the final Olympic team spot - which was finish ahead of Andy Potts - he turned in a stellar performance with a spectacular sixth place finish. Potts, who finished almost 30 seconds behind Kemper, was eighth overall. Click here for full men’s race review from the Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon World Cup
Kemper rounds out the U.S. men’s Olympic team that already included Jarrod Shoemaker, who qualified last September at the Beijing BG Triathlon World Cup, and Matt Reed, winner of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in April. Potts will serve as the team’s replacement/alternate.
The U.S. is one of just five countries that qualified the maximum three women and three men for Beijing. Click here for the final Olympic rankings
Many other national federations have announced their Olympics teams. Click here to find out other athletes who have been nominated to their National Olympic Committees
Hunter Kemper lets his emotions go after qualifying for his third Olympic Games
Find more details about this event - 2008 Beijing Olympic Games