In Leeds Australians Aaron Royle, who led the field out of the swim as he set about chasing those critical final Olympic quota points for Australia and Jacob Birtwhistle (TAS) finished 19th and 21st respectively in a men’s race won by Great Britain’s Alex Yee who had Leeds’ Roundhay Park in the palm of his hands.
Yee coasted to a first WTCS gold after a magnificent 10km run with Morgan Pearson (USA) producing another brilliant race to finish second; the bronze going to Belgium’s Marten van Riel.
The women’s race saw another Olympic hopeful Natalie Van Coevorden (NSW) finish in 16th, following her 15th place position in Yokohama and 11th at the 2021 World Triathlon Cup held in Lisbon. While London Olympian Emma Jackson was a DNF as she works her way back into form from injury.
On the second lap of the bike it was Van Coevorden who emerged in pursuit of the leaders along with British girl Beth Potter and Bermuda’s former world champion Flora Duffy as she continued to test herself in the return to racing, eventually running into fourth. In the end the race went to the Netherlands Maya Kingma who took her first ever Series win.
For Australia the Tokyo countdown is also about the all-important goal of maximising the quota of three athletes for both genders – now mathematically possible. The final run for Olympic qualification points, which wraps up this weekend at the World Triathlon Cup race in Huatulco, Mexico and the 2021 Oceania Triathlon Championship and Cup in Port Douglas will see Australia with a real chance of qualifying three athletes per gender.
Triathlon Australia National Performance Director Justin Drew “If we are successful in qualifying three per gender it is likely that it would be only Australia or the US that could get that final combination of three and for us, it comes from a situation that was really looking highly unlikely given the challenges in accessing International events from Australia,” said Drew.
Clint Pickin finished 5th in the PTS4 class at the World Triathlon Para Championships event the day prior to the WTCS event and will aim to his Paralympic qualification aspiration alive over the final Para Triathlon World Cup races of the period.