San Diego will be the second event of the 2012 season that athletes will be able to compete in to gain points for the ITU World Triathlon Series. Not only is it one of the season’s events to compete for the ITU title, but it’s also one of the events where triathletes can secure vital qualification points for the London 2012 Olympic Games later this year.
The triathlon event held in San Diego, United States, takes centre stage on Friday 11 May 2012 and Saturday 12 May 2012 as the start of the elite women’s race kicks off on Friday whilst the men’s event starts the following day.
USA Triathlon Team Showcase
For USA, it is the main opportunity for American athletes to prove that they have what it takes to compete for USA in the London 2012 Olympic Games. The qualification criteria set by the USA National committee for the women’s event states that a top-nine finish will automatically qualify them for the London 2012 Olympic Games. If more than 1 woman places amongst the top nine athletes in the San Diego event, the top finisher of the multiple athletes will secure the spot on the US Olympic team.
USA Team Qualification Process
If none of the US women athletes competing in the San Diego event finish in the top nine, then the US national committee for Triathlon will decide on whom to take with them to the London 2012 Games. Laura Bennett is the strong favourite for the San Diego event and she is currently ranked 6th in the Women Olympic Rankings for London 2012 but Sarah Groff isn’t far behind in 11th.
For the men’s event, it has been confirmed that the first male athlete to cross the line from the United States will earn a spot in the London 2012 Games regardless of where they finish the San Diego race. Unfortunately Triathlon hasn’t been the most successful athletic sports for the United States and as the Olympic Rankings stand at the minute, USA only represent one Triathlete in the top 50 with Jarrod Shoemaker ranked in 19th place.
The WTS San Diego 2012 event isn’t just for Olympic hopefuls to gain more points for the London 2012 Olympic Games; it is also one of the ITU’s main events for the 2012 season. There are 8 events altogether in the ITU World Triathlon series and Sydney have already hosted the first main event of the season.
The Birthplace of Modern Triathlon
It will be an especially proud moment for San Diego this weekend as it will be the first time that they have held an ITU race. San Diego is regarded as the birthplace for modern triathlon due to the very first set of Triathletes taking part in a course in San Diego dating way back to 1974. It seems fitting that San Diego has now been awarded a place amongst 8 countries to stage one of the 8 ITU events in a season. It is only the second time the ITU have decided to use the US for one of their events as they used Washington D.C previously in 2009.
Great Britain dominated the ITU World Championships last year with both male and female Triathletes being British. Unfortunately for the male champion, Alistair Brownlee, he is set to miss the San Diego 2012 event due to an Achilles injury that also ruled him out of the first event in Sydney. However, the current women’s champion, Helen Jenkins is set to feature at the San Diego event.
Helen Jenkins is a strong favourite to take the gold medal position in San Diego tomorrow as she looks set to go one better than her position in Sydney. In Sydney she was beaten to the gold by Australia’s Erin Densham but Densham had the advantage of the home crowds egging her on but it will be a different story in the US.
The U.S female Triathletes will have the advantage of hometown knowledge as the San Diego course is new so US athletes such as Sarah Groff and Gwen Jorgensen will be familiar with the new look course. Those 2 have both secured their spots for the London 2012 Games but will both be vowing to finish on the podium to boost their chances of winning the 2012 ITU World Series this season.
There are a few other Triathletes who will firmly believe they have a chance of winning the San Diego event with Switzerland’s Daniela Ryf and Melanie Annaheim also on the start line. Canada’s Kathy Tremblay has also been showing good form this season and will be looking to cause an upset on Friday.
As mentioned earlier, the current ITU World Series Champion won’t be taking part, as Alistair Brownlee is still recovering from his latest injury. It might not be all bad news for the Brownlee household though as Alistair’s younger brother, Jonathan is set to make his season debut in the San Diego men’s event on Saturday.
His form towards the end of last year makes him a strong favourite on Saturday and he will also be hoping to impress and gain some form going into the London 2012 Games. Similarly to the women, the US male Triathletes will have the knowledge of knowing more about the newly built course than other competitors will have. With the added incentive of the highest placed US athlete certain for a place in the London 2012 Games as well, USA’s Matt Chrabot, Manuel Huerta, Jarrod Shoemaker and Hunter Kemper will all be hoping to finish as high as they can and it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of them finished on the podium in San Diego.
There is also a vital battle between two National Olympic Committee’s at this Saturday’s men’s event between Canada and Australia. Australia are currently ranked 8th in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games which means they will be able to send 3 male athletes to the London Games compared to Canada who are ranked 9th and will only be able to send 2. Simon Whitfield of Canada and Courtney Atkinson of Australia are the athletes who are likely to be the third athlete for both countries will go head to head and the highest placed competitor could be likely to go to the London 2012 Games.
If you want to know more about any of the competitors that took part in this race visit our triathlete profiles page.