COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.
The results of the International Triathlon Union BG Beijing World Cup on September 15-16 will guarantee one male and one female triathlete a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team at the Beijing Olympic Games in August 2008. It is the first of three Olympic Qualifying races for U.S. athletes over the next nine months.
Six American women will compete on Saturday, Sept. 15, with six men taking to the start line on Sunday, Sept. 16. The first U.S. male and female athlete to cross the line will earn a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.
The International Triathlon Union will provide a live webcast of both races at http://www.triathlon.org/?call=TVRnNQ==&keep=sh#. Note, due to the time difference, the women’s race is set for Friday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. Mountain Time (10 p.m. Eastern), while the men’s race is set for the same time on Saturday, Sept. 15.
“This race will be highly competitive as it is being used by several countries as an Olympic qualifying event. The athletes that qualify there will have an entire year to prepare, so we will know how they can perform on that course, in that environment,” said USAT Sport Performance Director Scott Schnitzspahn, who added that the start lists will be a who’s who of international triathletes, including past Olympic medalists and world champions.
The résumé of the U.S. athletes competing this weekend is noteworthy, including three Olympic Games appearances, seven ITU World Championship medals, three Pan American Games gold medals, two Pan American Games silver medals, one Pan American Games bronze medal, 12 USA Triathlon National Championships, and two Olympic Games alternate selections.
Many of the athletes have been training in South Korea to prepare for the race.
Below is the list of Americans competing this weekend in Beijing, China:
Laura Bennett (N. Palm Beach, Fla. / Boulder, Colo.)
-- 2004 Olympic Team alternate; four-time ITU Worlds medalist
Julie Swail Ertel (Irvine, Calif.)
-- 2007 USAT Elite National Champion; 2007 Pan Am Games Gold medalist
Sarah Groff (Cooperstown, N.Y. / Boulder, Colo.)
-- 2007 ITU Aquathlon World Champion
Sara McLarty (DeLand, Fla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
-- 2006 USAT U23 National Champion; 2006 ITU Aquathlon World Champion
Sarah Haskins (St. Louis, Mo. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)
-- 2006 USAT Elite National Champion; 2007 Pan Am Games Silver medalist
Becky Lavelle (Minnetonka, Minn. / Los Gatos, Calif.)
-- 2006 USAT Non-ITU Female Triathlete of the Year
The triathlon team will have a maximum of three slots per gender based on country and athlete rankings, which will be finalized after the 2008 World Championships in Vancouver.
After this weekend, the next male and female triathlon team members will be selected in a similar manner at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at the Honolulu Triathlon on April 26, 2008. The final members of the team will be selected following the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines on June 22, 2008. These final slots will be determined on a points system that takes into account the athletes’ best two finishes over the three races. The points system will also determine the team’s male and female alternates.
This is the pinnacle race of the year for me and I have been focusing on this race since the beginning of 2007. I am ready to put it all out on the line and give it everything I have. This race will also be a great opportunity to gain experience in racing at a level a step higher than a normal world cup and possibly the World Championships.
Julie Swail Ertel
This is the biggest race of the year as it is the prime race to qualify for the Olympics. It will allow the athlete who qualifies to concentrate on training and peaking in August of next year. I'm enjoying the training camp in South Korea. It is a very relaxing environment with shorter training days with more intensity. It is a perfect set up for the Beijing race.
More details on the race, including complete start lists, can be found at: http://www.triathlon.org/?call=TVRFdw==&id=ODk2&keep=sh
See the complete procedure for the U.S. Olympic Team selection: http://www.usatriathlon.org/upload/pdfs/elite_usat_2008athlete_selectionprocedures.pdf
See the complete World Cup rankings: http://triathlon.org/?call=TWpNMw%3D%3D&keep=sh&MM_filter=frmFilters&sex=male&yr=MjAwNw%3D%3D&Submit=Filter+Results
See the complete Olympic rankings:
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images