Morgan Pearson Qualifies for 2024 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team at World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris
August 18, 2023
The race, held on the 2024 Paris Olympic course, marked the first of three Olympic Games Paris 2024 auto-qualification opportunities for U.S. triathletes.
PARIS /ENDURANCE SPORTSWIRE/ – U.S. Elite triathlete Morgan Pearson qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team at the World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris, held Friday, Aug. 18 on the fast and scenic 2024 Paris Olympic course that showcases historic landmarks such as the Pont Alexandre III bridge, Grand Palais and Champs-Elysées. The event marked the first of three Olympic Games Paris 2024 auto-qualification opportunities for U.S. triathletes.
Pearson placed sixth to lead the U.S. men and earn an auto-qualification spot to the Paris 2024 Games. A Tokyo 2020 Olympian, Pearson has qualified for his second Olympic Games. He joins Taylor Knibb, who qualified on Thursday, as the first two U.S. elite triathletes to qualify for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. This past day has been a whirlwind. I wasn’t on the start list until 14 hours before the race,” Pearson said. “I wasn’t even thinking about qualification that much until those last two laps (on the run). This means a lot to me, but maybe it means more to my family because they can come to this one.”
Olympic Team selections are subject to the U.S. earning its predicted two to three country slots per gender at the conclusion of the World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Period in 2024. In addition, all Olympic Team nominations are pending final approval by the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.
Per USA Triathlon Olympic selection criteria, two U.S. athletes would have qualified in Friday’s race in Paris if both athletes finished on the podium (top three). If one U.S. athlete finished on the podium and another was in the top eight, then both would qualify. If no one reached the podium, only the single highest-ranking athlete in the top eight would earn a spot.
Thus, Pearson’s sixth-place finish qualified him for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon team.
Pearson, who has dealt with injuries and illness this season, was left off the original start list in Paris due to his lower World Triathlon ranking. On Thursday afternoon, however, he rolled onto the start list after Australia’s Mathew Hauser and Canada’s Charles Paquet dropped off due to illness.
Pearson made the most of his opportunity to race. He finished the 1500-meter swim among the second group out of the water, joined by fellow U.S. Elite Triathlon National Team member Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.).
The duo rode their way to the lead bike pack, and by the end of the second lap of the 40-kilometer bike, a group of more than 40 riders formed the front group, with all five U.S. elite triathletes in the group: Rider, Pearson, Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.), Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) and Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.).
The massive pack emerged together out of transition and Pearson quickly moved to the front on the run, taking the lead by the end of the first lap of the 10k. Great Britain’s Alex Yee took back control in the second lap and ran un-challenged the rest of the way, cruising to victory in 1 hour, 41 minutes, 2 seconds. Portugal’s Vasco Vilaca sprinted to silver, out-kicking Dorian Coninx of France.
Pearson, with his top-eight place secured and ticket punched to the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, ran to cheers and high-fives on the blue carpet for a sixth-place finish in 1:41:23.
McElroy finished 14th, his best performance at a World Triathlon event since his eighth-place finish at the 2023 season opener in Abu Dhabi in March. Rider placed 26th, Smith 45th and McQueen 50th.
The next auto-selection opportunity for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team is the 2023 World Triathlon Championship Finals Pontevedra on Sept. 20-24. At that event, one additional U.S. woman can qualify for the team by finishing on the podium.
After the Championship Finals race, a to-be-determined Olympic-distance World Triathlon Championship Series race in spring 2024 will serve as the final Olympic auto-qualification opportunity for U.S. elite triathletes. The first U.S. athlete to finish on the podium will earn automatic qualification.
Following the final auto-qualification event, all remaining available Olympic slots will be selected via discretion by the USA Triathlon Games Athletes Selection Committee. Read here for more information about U.S. qualification procedures for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
SATURDAY & SUNDAY RACE SCHEDULE
Racing in Paris continues Saturday, Aug. 19 with the World Triathlon Para Cup Paris at 2 a.m. ET (8 a.m. local time in Paris).
The weekend of racing concludes with the Mixed Relay event on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 2 a.m. ET (8 a.m. local time in Paris).
The World Triathlon Para World Cup Paris, while not a direct auto-qualification event, gives athletes a valuable opportunity to earn points toward qualification for the Paralympic Games Paris 2024. Should an athlete win both the World Cup Paris and the World Triathlon Paratriathlon World Championships in September in Spain in their classification, he or she will be named to the 2024 U.S. Paralympic Triathlon Team pending the U.S. earning a country slot in that classification medal event.
Fourteen U.S. elite paratriathletes are set to race in Paris, including Paralympic medalists Grace Norman (2016 gold, 2020 silver medalist, PTS5); Kendall Gretsch (2020 gold medalist, PTWC); Hailey Danz (Colorado Springs, Colo., 2016, 2020 silver medalist, PTS2), Melissa Stockwell (2016 bronze medalist. PTS2) and Mohamed Lahna (2016 bronze medalist representing Morocco, PTS2).
Also racing is three-time Paralympian Chris Hammer (PTS5) and fellow Tokyo 2020 Paralympians Kelly Elmlinger (PTS4), Kyle Coon (PTVI), with guide Zach Goodman and Eric McElvenny (PTS4).
Twenty-year old Project Podium athlete Owen Cravens (PTVI) will race with guide Ben Hoffman, while fellow up-and-coming stars Carson Clough (PTS4) and Emma Meyers (PTS4) will also race.
Also racing is Mark Barr (PTS2) who finished fourth at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, and Howie Sanborn (PTWC).
HOW TO WATCH
World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 5k run
Men’s Podium — Complete Results
1. Alex Yee (GB), 1:41:02
2. Vasco Vilaca (POR), 1:41:15
3. Dorian Conix (FRA), 1:41:15
*6. Morgan Pearson (N.J.), 1:41:23
14. Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), 1:42:19
26. Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn.), 1:43:10
45. Darr Smith (Atlanta, Ga.), 1:44:23
50. Chase McQueen (Columbus, Ind.), 1:46:09
Qualified for Olympic Games Paris 2024
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon, paratriathlon, and indoor and virtual multisport events in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,000 races and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) – to learn more: usatriathlon.org.