May's WTCS and World Cup races fuel Team World Triathlon's Olympic dreams

by Ben Eastman on 09 May, 2024 05:44 • Español
May's WTCS and World Cup races fuel Team World Triathlon's Olympic dreams

Team World Triathlon are facing their final roll of the dice. The Olympic qualification window closes in less than four weeks and, as such, the current iteration of the Team will soon find out which of them will be going to Paris.

As a reminder, the purpose of Team World Triathlon is to provide support, resources, and expertise to athletes from emerging/developing National Federations with a view to helping them qualify for this summer’s Paris Olympic Games. Of the twenty-seven athletes on the Team, over half still stand with realistic shots of qualifying.

Who’s close?

At the time of writing, three members of the Team World Triathlon have essentially guaranteed Olympic qualification. WTCS medallist Jawad Abdelmoula (MAR) is the leading man in that regard while he will likely be joined on the men’s start list in Paris by Diego Moya (CHI). Moya’s recent bronze medal at the Wollongong World Cup has essentially sewn up his qualification. Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Maria Carolina Velasquez Soto (COL) can afford to turn her attentions to Paris after claiming the silver medal in Wollongong.

Several other Team members are incredibly close to making the cut. Erica Hawley (BER) can be confident of locking in her slot but remains vulnerable to any last-minute shake-up in the rankings. Not far behind Hawley in the Olympic rankings is Zuzana Michlickova (SVK). The Slovakian athlete has displayed sterling World Cup form since last August, logging five top-10 finishes, and is on the cusp of qualifying. Badr Siwane (MAR) is another athlete in the hunt to qualify through the Olympic rankings.

At the same time, Michlickova’s compatriot and fellow Team member, Ivana Kuriackova, currently leads the European women’s New Flag race. Vicky Van Der Merwe (RSA) is the runaway leader in the African women’s New Flag race while Siefeldeen Ismail (EGY) is pushing hard for the African men’s New Flag berth.

Three Team athletes are also likely to earn the two Universality slots per gender. Tyler Smith (BER), Eloi Adjavon (TOG) and Edda Hannesdottir (ISL) have strong chances of receiving an invitation from the Tripartite Commission.

Several other members harbour Olympic aspirations and Team World Triathlon will continue their qualification efforts right up until the deadline at the end of May. With two WTCS races and two World Cups taking place this month, many of the Team will be taking on the best in the world as they pursue their paths to Paris.

WTCS – Yokohama and Cagliari

Two athletes have secured starting slots at WTCS Yokohama and the Team will have one representative in each of the men’s and women’s races. Moya will be starting in the former while Michalickova will be lining up on the pontoon in the latter. Michalickova has not yet broken into the top-30 of a WTCS race in her incipient career. Should she score a best ever finish in Yokohama, Olympic qualification could become a reality. Moya, meanwhile, will hope to translate his recent World Cup medal into a high WTCS finish.

At the second WTCS race of May, in Cagliari, five members of the Team will be racing. One of the most noteworthy stories of the quintet belongs to Matthew Wright (BAR).

Wright last raced in the WTCS back in 2018 in Edmonton. Almost six years will have passed when he readies himself on the Cagliari start line and simply completing his journey back will stand as a major achievement. If all goes to plan, Wright may be able to cap a WTCS return with Olympic qualification during the same weekend. He will be joined by Abdelmoula.

Three women from Team World Triathlon will be starting in Cagliari. Michalickova will be back for more WTCS action while her fellow Slovakian Kuriackova will also be present. Hawley will complete the trio in Cagliari. She has not yet finished inside the top-40 at a WTCS race and so finds herself in a similar boat to Michalickova. With a personal best finish, Paris may come calling.

World Cups – Samarkand and Huatulco

Of course world-level racing will not only take place in the WTCS this month; May will also see two World Cups held in the final fortnight of Olympic qualification, in Samarkand and Huatulco. The two events will actually take place on the same weekend, falling between the showdowns in Yokohama and Cagliari.

Samarkand is the second of two designated World Cup events for Team World Triathlon ahead of the Olympic qualification deadline at the end of May. The first event was the Chengdu World Cup last month. It has therefore attracted a significant cohort of Team athletes.

Hawley and Michlickova will be racing in Samarkand a week before WTCS Cagliari. As one of three world-level races for Michlickova, May will certainly be a busy month. Romana Gajdošová (SVK) and Hannesdottir will also be in attendance.

Aleksandr Kurishov (UZB) will have a chance to race at a World Cup on home soil as Uzbekistan welcomes the triathlon community to its first ever World Cup event. Smith, Siwane, Henry Räppo (EST) and Panagiotis Bitados (GRE) will also be starting in the men’s event.

Over in Mexico, the illustrious Huatulco World Cup returns. Velasquez will be seeking a second World Cup medal of the season, as will Moya. Van Der Merwe will hope to translate her sparkling African form – she is unbeaten on her home continent in 2024 – in pastures new in Huatulco and will be joined by her fellow Team member and South African athlete Amber Schlebusch.

Two Team members from Costa Rica and Ecuador will also start in Huatulco. Alvaro Campos Solano and Raquel Solis Guerrero will represent the former while Gabriel Terán Carvajal and Ramón Armando Matute will be racing for the latter.

Plenty of Team World Triathlon athletes will therefore be starting across the May WTCS and World Cup events. However, with Olympic qualification at a truly cut-throat stage, they will have to overcome the best efforts of the rest of the world if they are to make it to Paris. Keep up to date with all the action and how Team World Triathlon fare on their Olympic journeys on TriathlonLive and across World Triathlon social channels.

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