Taylor Knibb Qualifies for 2024 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team at World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris
August 17, 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 Taylor Knibb (Boulder, Colo.) qualified for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team at the World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris, held Thursday, Aug. 17 at the historic Pont Alexandre III bridge. 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.
Knibb placed fifth in the race, using a strong run to lead the U.S. women and earn an auto-qualification spot to the Paris 2024 Games.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. It was so different qualifying in 2021,” said Knibb, who has qualified for her second Olympic Games. In 2021, at the age of 23, she became the youngest U.S. woman to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team. She’d go on to place 16th at the pandemic-delayed Tokyo 2020 Games. “To do it the way I did it last time made it hard, so hopefully having it (the Olympic Games) not quite a year away – 347 days out I think — will help me plan and focus for next year.”
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 Thursday’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, Knibb’s fifth-place finish qualified her for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon team, and she is the only U.S. woman to qualify on the day.
Knibb nearly ran her way onto the podium — which would have opened a potential second U.S. qualification spot — by posting the field’s fastest splits on the second and third running laps. In 23rd place after the second transition, Knibb ran her way into contention — and nearly the podium — but she wasn’t able catch Germany’s Laura Lindemann or France’s Emma Lombardi for third and finished the 1500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10k run in a time of 1 hour, 52 minutes, 4 seconds.
Great Britain’s Beth Potter won in 1:51:40, Cassandre Beaugrand of France took second in 1:51:40, while Lindemann placed third in 1:51:59. Lombardi placed fourth in 1:52:00.
“It was a strange race, but it checked a box. It’s frustrating because the podium was right there and that could have changed some things (for U.S. Olympic team selection),” Knibb said. “I was trying to use them (Lindemann and Lombardi), even if you don’t get there, use them to keep drawing you forward.”
Athletes on Thursday raced on a scenic, fast course through the heart of Paris. Diving into the Seine River to start the race, athletes swiftly swam through the river’s current and exited the water to climb the 32 steps of the Pont Alexandre III bridge. The race then took athletes on a seven-lap bike course on the Champs-Elysées, with many spectators lined along the historic boulevard that leads to the Arc de Triomphe.
Consistently among the field’s strongest swimmers, Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.) was second out of the water and led all athletes out of the first transition to the bike. By the end of the second lap of the bike, a group of 24 athletes formed the front group on the bike, with all five U.S. athletes in contention — Knibb, Rappaport, Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) and Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.).
The U.S. athletes took turns at the front of the pack, but no breakaways formed, giving way to a showdown on the run featuring the field’s strongest runners in Great Britain’s Potter and France’s Beaugrand and Lombardi.
Knibb worked her way up to fifth, while Spivey placed 10th, Zaferes 12th, Kasper 15th and Rappaport 16th, demonstrating the strength and depth of the U.S. elite women’s triathlon team. The U.S. was the only country to place five in the top 20.
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.
FRIDAY AND SATURDAY RACE SCHEDULE
Racing in Paris continues Friday, with the elite men’s event, scheduled for Friday, Aug. 18 at 2 a.m. ET (8 a.m. local time in Paris).
In the elite men’s race, U.S. Elite Triathlon National Team members Seth Rider and Matt McElroy will represent Team USA, coming to Paris as the 30th and 36th ranked athletes in the 2023 WTCS rankings. McElroy is one of three U.S. men (along with Jarrod Shoemaker and Morgan Pearson) to win a medal at a WTCS event. Project Podium alum Chase McQueen and fellow up-and-comer Darr Smith round out the men’s roster in Paris.
Elite paratriathletes then race the World Triathlon Para Cup Paris on Saturday, Aug. 19 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.
HOW TO WATCH
World Triathlon Olympic Games Test Event Paris
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 5k run
Elite Women — Complete Results
1. Beth Potter (GB), 1:51:40
2. Cassandre Beaugrand (FRA), 1:51:46
3. Laura Lindemann (GER), 1:51:59
5. Taylor Knibb (Boulder, Colo.), 1:52:04
10. Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.), 1:52:46
12. Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.), 1:52:57
15. Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), 1:53:29
16. Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), 1:53:53
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.