Men's Olympic Triathlon Spot at Risk

Unfortunately for the U.S.A., Switzerland and Russia had the opportunity to score points at the European Championships, while the United States (Hunter Kemper, Matt Reed) and Australia (Brendan Sexton) did not.

Heading into the European Championships, the rankings looked like this:

Brendan Sexton (AUS - three country slots): 2,507
Dmitri Polyansky (RUS - three country slots): 2,500
Olivier Marceau (SUI - three country slots): 2,452
Hunter Kemper (USA- two country slots): 2,359
Matt Reed (USA): 2,305

Before the race, I predicted that Polyansky and Marceau would both pass Sexton in the rankings. Polyansky was working from a base of thirteen races, only nine of which count in the total, so his lowest scoring race would be dropped. Marceau was working from a base of only five races, so any points he accumulated would count in his total.

What I didn't predict was that Polyansky would not start the race. This helped the U.S.A. keep the points spread lower. We can make any number of speculations as to why he didn't race, but he has been racing a lot, so perhaps he needed a break.

Marceau did indeed race well, scoring himself a podium position. His third place finish earned him a tidy 356 points. This bumped Switzerland past Russia and Australia for country rankings and the list of countries to field three slots on the start line for the men.

After the European Championships, the Olympic Rankings are:

Olivier Marceau (SUI - three country slots): 2,808
Brendan Sexton (AUS - three country slots): 2,507
Dmitri Polyansky (RUS - three country slots): 2,500
Hunter Kemper (USA- two country slots): 2,359
Matt Reed (USA): 2,305

In order for Hunter Kemper or Matt Reed to get the U.S.A. that third country slot, they need to score more points at the next World Cup race in Madrid than Polyansky or Sexton. I laid out what needs to happen for us to win back that spot in my blog here.

Kemper Not Racing Madrid

Before putting the final touches on this column, I decided to check the start list again. I noticed that Kemper was not registered for the Madrid World Cup. I gave USAT National Team Program Director, Scott Schnitzpahn, a call to find out why Kemper is off of the start list.

He said, "We decided it was the best strategy for the U.S.A. and for Hunter Kemper if he were to focus on the World Championships race in Vancouver."

Subtle Complications

One issue with the potential to work in favor for the American cause is that of Australian Brendon Sexton's status. Australia has already chosen their Olympic team, and a selection committee awarded Greg Bennett the third position. Bennett is the ninth Australian in the Olympic rankings, while Sexton is the third-ranked Australian.

Sexton is racing the last two events of the season so that Bennett can have a spot on the Australian Olympic team. Sexton was not selected for the Olympic team.

How country-oriented is Brendon Sexton? Is he motivated to race for someone else to be on the Olympic team?

We'll see.

Important Races in the Next Few Weeks

I've also mentioned that Madrid is not the final determining race for those country slots. Vancouver World Championships on Sunday, June 8 will be the final race that determines how many male triathletes each nation sends to Beijing.

We have two very important races to watch in the next few weeks that will help determine the number of athletes the U.S.A. will have on the Olympic men's start line. You can watch both the Madrid World Cup race (May 25,?2008)?and the ITU World Championships (June 8, 2008)?live on the ITU website.

The Women are on Their Way

I haven't mentioned country slots for the women because the U.S.A is much more secure in rankings on the women's side of the equation. We have three country slots now and are the fifth of eight countries to qualify for three starting positions.

The eighth country to qualify three athletes is France, with Marion Lorblanchet's 2,011 points. In the hunt for that eighth position is China's Lin Xing with 1,894 points. Our third qualifying athlete, Julie Ertel, currently has 3,447 points.

Xing's best race score is currently 241 points. The odds of the U.S.A. losing the third slot on the women's side are extraordinarily low.

Do You Think the U.S.A. will get That Men's Slot Back?

No one wants that third country slot back more than Matt Reed.

Do you think he can get it back in Madrid? Do you think he can hold it through World Championships?

Let us know your predictions.

Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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