TRIATHLON Preview: Tokyo test event is also an Olympic qualifier, for U.S. and others

American triathlon star Katie Zaferes wins in Montreal (Photo: ITU/Wagner Araujo)

Most pre-Olympic test events are just that: tests, of the venue and staff. But for many of the world’s top triathletes, this week’s program is literally their opportunity to seal their return to Tokyo for the Olympic races in 2020.

For example, for the U.S. athletes, if two of the five American women win medals, they will both guarantee their spot for next year. If one wins a medal, a top-eight finish would be enough to earn the second qualification place.

There are other countries who are also looking at this event very seriously, with similar impact. The schedule:

15 August (0730): Women
16 August (0730): Men
18 August (0800): Mixed Relay

The course at the Odaiba Marin Park includes:

Swim: 1.5 km = 2 laps x 750 m
Bike: 40 km = 8 laps x 5 km
Run: 10 km = 4 laps x 2.5 km

Part of the challenge will be the weather, with temperatures continuing in the low-80s in the morning, with humidity at 80% , a 50% chance of rain on Thursday and Friday and winds up to 22 miles per hour.

The entries include 67 men and 67 women, with at least 10 men’s medal winners from this season and nine women’s medalists:

Men:
● Jacob Birtwhistle (AUS) ~ Won at Leeds and Hamburg
● Jelle Geens (BEL) ~ Won at Montreal
● Dorian Coninx (FRA) ~ Won at Bermuda
● Marten van Riel (BEL) ~ Third at Edmonton
Matthew McElroy (USA) ~ Second at Leeds
● Jonathan Brownlee (GBR) ~ Winner at Edmonton
● Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) ~ Third at Montreal
● Henri Schoeman (RSA) ~ Second at Yokohama
● Gustav Iden (NOR) !~ Third at Bermuda
● Alex Yee (GBR) ~ Second at Abu Dhabi

Women:
Katie Zaferes (USA) ~ Won at Abu Dhabi, Bermuda, Yokohama and Montreal
● Jessica Learmonth (GBR) ~ Second in Bermuda; third at Abu Dhabi, Leeds & Montreal
● Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) ~ Won at Leeds; second at Montreal
● Non Stanford (GBR) ~ Won at Hamburg
Taylor Spivey (USA) ~ Second at Abu Dhabi; third at Yokohama
Summer Rappaport (USA) ~ Second at Yokohama and Edmonton
● Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) ~ Third at Edmonton
● Emma Jackson (AUS) ~ Won at Edmonton
● Joanna Brown (CAN) ~ Third at Bermuda

Although out of action with injuries over the past two years, Bermuda’s Flora Duffy, a two-time World Champion, is back on the start list and will be watched closely.

While the heat and water quality will be issues to be tracked, the athletes looking for places in Tokyo should make this event spectacular. Look for results here.