The World Triathlon Cup and continental championships present the final chance for the athletes to move up the rankings to earn Olympic qualifying spots, with the window closing on 14 June.
Olympic qualification points, team selections and podium places will all be on the line at various triathlon races over the weekend, including the World Triathlon Cup in Huatulco, Mexico.
The Africa and Oceania Triathlon Championships will also take place over the weekend, which will provide further intrigue in the race to Monday’s final deadline.
Results at the continental championships may have a bearing on what triathletes need to achieve in Mexico, and vice versa, to nail down places for their nations.
Jockeying for three quotas
In the men’s elite division, the United States are holding on to a precarious third quota for the Games courtesy of Eli Hemming’s 30th place on the Olympic ranking. Hemming will line up on the pontoon in Mexico, where his performance could either cement or lose the third quota for America.
Countries can qualify a maximum of three quota places per event should they have a minimum of three athletes within the top-30 ranked spots of the World Triathlon individual Olympic qualification ranking at the end of the window period.
Even if Hemming manages to hold on to his top-30 position, he is not guaranteed a ticket to Tokyo with compatriot Kevin McDowell set to launch a late challenge for US selection. McDowell is currently ranked 36th on the Olympic rankings, but a stellar performance may yet sway the team selectors.
But America’s three-man quota may depend on what Australia’s Luke Willian does at the Oceania Triathlon Championships in Port Douglas, Australia. Willian, who is currently ranked 33rd on the Olympic rankings, could leapfrog Hemming and earn his nation a third spot.
Willian’s compatriot Aaron Royle will be racing in Mexico, where he is the second-best ranked triathlete in the field and will be looking to improve on his 18th place finish in Leeds last weekend.
Crisanto Grajales, currently ranked 31st on the Olympic rankings, will spearhead the Mexican contingent of 11 triathletes in the men’s elite race.
Meanwhile, Olympic bronze medallist Henri Schoeman will be the firm favourite at the African Triathlon Championships in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Schoeman, who is among the top-ranked triathletes in the world, finished in a creditable fifth place at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan, last month.
Japanese team trial
The women’s elite race in Mexico will effectively be a mini team trial for Japan, represented by nine athletes. Japan’s top-ranked triathlete KISHIMOTO Niina will lead the charge, with IDE Juri and SATO Yuka also among the starters.
U.S. athlete Kirsten Kasper will be the top seed in Mexico and will be looking to build on her third-place finish at the World Triathlon Cup in Lisbon two weeks ago. She will have compatriots Erika Ackerlund and Renee Tomlin for company for a charge at the podium.
Home favourite Pan-American Games bronze medallist Cecilia Perez will be looking to put on a show along with Michelle Flipo and Jessica Romero Tinoco.