How the Samarkand and Huatulco World Cups reshaped the Olympic rankings

by Ben Eastman on 20 May, 2024 08:20 • Español
How the Samarkand and Huatulco World Cups reshaped the Olympic rankings

After a Mixed Relay Olympic qualifier and World Cup double-header of a weekend, triathlon fans trying to track the various permutations and vagaries of the Olympic rankings may have risked ending the weekend with an evidence board as cluttered as the best conspiracy theorists.

Across the racing in Huatulco and Samarkand, athletes rose and athletes fell, so in this article, we will pick up the pieces and share exactly what you need to know before the final showdown.

The Men’s Olympic Rankings

In normal discussions of the Olympic rankings, we tend to focus on the top-30 (the cut-off for sending a third athlete to the Games) or the cluster of athletes gunning for the final slots for individual qualification through the rankings. Here, though, we will start a little differently.

While Richard Murray (NED) ran to an outstanding victory in Huatulco, the Dutch team were rather more fixated on the outcome of Mitch Kolkman’s day. The 2023 World U23 medallist entered the weekend with an Olympic ranking of 146th but to lock in the Netherlands’ Mixed Team Relay Olympic slot he had to rise into the top-140. As it happened, a 9th-place finish was enough to see him climb to 126th. His rise might not have been as dramatic as some of the others seen in recent times, but it may have been one of the most consequential.

Further up the rankings, Bence Bicsák (HUN) and Márk Dévay (HUN) gained one and two places respectively after their performances in Huatulco and Samarkand. They now sit in 24th and 26th in the Olympic rankings and have essentially locked in a third male Olympic slot for Hungary, Gabor Faldum in 29th knowing he needs a huge result in Cagliari if he is to claim one of them.

Makoto Odakura (JPN) made a valuable four-place gain after finishing 9th in Samarkand. He now stands 41st in the Olympic rankings and has gained breathing space over his compatriot Takumi Hojo, who slips to 48th. In all likelihood, the highest-ranked of the two will receive the second male Japanese Olympic slot behind Kenji Nener.

In another national Olympic race, Jonas Schomburg (GER) finally triumphed in his duel against Lasse Nygaard Priester. Schomburg’s bronze medal in Samarkand, his second World Cup medal of the season, has made it mathematically impossible for Priester to overtake him in the Olympic rankings and thus Schomburg has received the third and final German Olympic berth. Schomburg ended the weekend ranked 16th. 

Further down the rankings, the race for the final slots has become ridiculously close. Tjebbe Kaindl (AUT) and Gasper Riveros (CHI) are in line to take the final two men’s slots from 81st and 83rd, respectively. Meanwhile, Gregor Payet (LUX) rose by two places after his showing in Samarkand to occupy 84th in the rankings and is less than a point behind Riveros. After two years of qualification, 0.71 points separate the two men.

Payet’s hopes may yet be rescued, though, as right now there is no eligible man to claim the Oceania New Flag slot. The spot will therefore roll down the Olympic rankings to the next highest ranked man, opening the door to the athlete from Luxembourg.

The Women’s Olympic Rankings

One of the most significant moves in the women’s rankings came from Ilaria Zane (ITA). Zane’s 5th place finish in Samarkand, her fourth top-5 finish at World Cups in 2024, bumped her up two places in the rankings to 26th. On paper at least, that should be enough to secure her in the top-30 and to hand Italy a third female slot at the Paris Olympics, though the final selection will be entirely discretionary.

Alberte Kjær Pedersen (DEN), the race winner in Huatulco, rose eight places into 30th in the rankings. Although she is the only Danish athlete in the top-30, Pedersen’s rise has had a slight impact on another race to earn a third slot. Both Noelia Juan (ESP) and Anna Godoy Contreras (ESP) have lost ground behind Pedersen after not racing at the weekend. The two Spanish athletes will be targeting WTCS Cagliari as their final chance to score points, but both will have plenty of work to do to rise into the top-30.

Another woman to mention is Roksana Slupek (POL). Her 4th place finish in Samarkand continues a fine run of form and elevates her nine places to 75th in the Olympic rankings. This will probably not be enough to earn Olympic qualification but there is one vital twist. Slupek’s result pushed her up to 50th in the world rankings and therefore into pole position to take the European women’s New Flag slot. Both Slupek and her closest rival Sinem Francisca Tous Servera (TUR) will be racing at WTCS Cagliari knowing one big performance could swing the Olympic pendulum either way.

Ultimately, though, when it comes to the women’s Olympic rankings, the greatest action can be found in the hunt for the final slot.

Unlike the men’s field, all five of the female New Flag slots are due to be allocated. As a result, there are four women now chasing one last place.

As things stand, Lisa Perterer (AUT) is the penultimate woman due to qualify from 55th in the rankings. She could yet be sucked into the battle below but she will likely be safe. Meanwhile, Petra Kurikova (CZE) finished 15th in Samarkand to push her up the rankings by two places to 58th. She now trails Perterer by less than 170 points. Crucially, Kurikova overtook Erica Hawley (BER).

Hawley sits in 60th in the rankings, a little over 60 points behind Kurikova. Two places back, Dominika Jamnicky (CAN) lurks in 62nd while the charge of Zuzana Michalickova (SVK) is showing no signs of showing. The Slovakian athlete gained six places by finishing 7th in Samarkand and holds 63rd in the Olympic rankings.

The situation, then, is simple. The four contenders are separated by six places in the rankings and only 271 points. Tantalisingly, all four will be racing at WTCS Cagliari this weekend and the fight for the final female slot in the Olympic rankings will be settled on the final day of qualification.

When it comes to Olympic qualification, then, the outcome of WTCS Cagliari this weekend elate some and devastate others while we have barely scratched the surface on the various Olympic sub-plots to track. The action promises to be nothing short of electric and you can catch all the excitement on TriathlonLive and follow all the narratives across World Triathlon social channels.

Tracker Pixel for Entry
Latest News
more news →