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U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team Qualifier Set for London this Weekend

Posted Aug 03 2011 3:08pm

523 COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - With spots for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team on the line at the International Triathlon Union World Championship Series stop at London's Hyde Park, nine of the United States' top elite triathletes - five women and four men - will be in action this weekend.
The 2011 ITU London WCS event will be held on the 2012 Olympic course and serves as the first opportunity for U.S. athletes to qualify for the Games. This weekend, the two highest-placing eligible American athletes per gender will automatically qualify for the Olympic team provided they place among the event's top nine finishers.
The women are slated to race at 3:30 a.m. Eastern on Saturday, followed by the men at 8 a.m. Eastern on Sunday. A live webcast of both races will be available from ITU at Visit for more information on the event.
Laura Bennett (Boulder, Colo.), Sarah Groff (Hanover, N.H.), Sarah Haskins (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Gwen Jorgensen (Milwaukee, Wis.) and Jillian Petersen (Colorado Springs, Colo.) will compete in Saturday's women's race. Visit for a complete women's start list.

Matt Chrabot (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Manuel Huerta (Miami, Fla.), Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Jarrod Shoemaker (Maynard, Mass.) will represent the men Sunday. Visit for a complete men's start list. 
Kemper is seeking his fourth Olympic berth, while Bennett, Haskins and Shoemaker are aiming for a second straight trip to the Games.
In addition to seeking individual berths to the Games, athletes also can lock up a country slot for the U.S. with a top-three finish in London. The U.S. is the only nation to have the maximum number of athletes - three men, three women - on the starting line in all three Olympic triathlons.
The seven-race WCS is a key proving ground for the United States' top triathletes aiming for a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team. In addition to racing for WCS points, athletes also will be looking to earn points toward securing a spot for their country at the 2012 Olympic Triathlon in London.
USA Triathlon takes a look at some news and notes heading into the first U.S. Olympic qualifier in London 
Bennett Seeks Eighth Consecutive Top-Eight Finish
Based on her recent performances, Laura Bennett figures to be in the mix for a top-nine finish and an Olympic berth Saturday. She has finished in the top 10 in seven straight WCS events and has finished no worse than eighth over this stretch, which dates to the 2010 WCS stop in Hamburg. Her top finish was a fifth-place showing in London a year ago.
Groff Earns First-Ever Podium for U.S. Women
Currently seventh in the ITU WCS rankings, Sarah Groff accomplished something no other U.S. woman has done earlier this season. She placed third in Kitzbühel on June 19 to claim the first-ever podium finish for an American woman in the three-year-old WCS. Groff has finished as the top U.S. woman in three consecutive WCS events and owns a pair of top-seven finishes over this stretch.
Bennett, Groff Own Top-Nine Track Record in 2011
It will take a top-nine finish to secure a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, and that is something Laura Bennett and Sarah Groff have done a combined five times on the WCS circuit in 2011. Bennett has placed sixth (Kitzbühel), eighth (Madrid) and sixth (Sydney), respectively, in her three events this year, while Groff was seventh in Madrid and third in Kitzbühel. Bennett (fifth) and Groff (seventh) make the U.S. the only nation with two women ranked in the top seven of the WCS rankings.
A Comeback for Kemper
Three-time Olympian Hunter Kemper will look to secure a fourth career Olympic Games appearance Sunday. After being plagued by injuries for much of 2009 and 2010, Kemper has returned to form in 2011. While the London event will be just Kemper's second WCS event of the season, he owns a trio of World Cup podium finishes, including a win in Ishigaki. Kemper is one of four three-time Olympians in the London field, and he will be joined by Canada's Simon Whitfield, Great Britain's Tim Don and Spain's Ivan Rana. In all, 10 men have competed in the first three Olympic triathlons.
U.S. Bringing Veteran Squad to London
In addition to Kemper and his bid to become a four-time Olympian, the U.S. will have a trio of athletes looking to earn a second straight trip to the Games. Laura Bennett, Sarah Haskins and Jarrod Shoemaker all were Olympians in Beijing, with Bennett posting a U.S.-best fourth-place finish. Kemper was seventh in 2008 for his top Olympic showing.
Haskins Piling Up Wins in 2011
Sarah Haskins was 15th in her lone WCS event of 2011 in Kitzbühel and already has earned five victories on the season, including her first career ITU World Cup win in Monterrey. A versatile athlete, Haskins also has earned non-drafting victories at the Life Time Fitness Triathlon, the Capitol of Texas Triathlon, the Miami International Triathlon and the St. Anthony's Triathlon. Haskins chose to race domestically for much of the season in preparation for this weekend's event in London.
U.S. Experiences Success in London
The U.S. contingent experienced success at the 2010 London WCS stop with three athletes placing in the top 12, including a pair of top-seven finishes. Jarrod Shoemaker placed seventh to match his top WCS finish of the year, while Laura Bennett was fifth for her best showing of last season. Sarah Groff just missed the top 10 with a 12th-place effort in 2010 and also placed 10th in London at the 2009 WCS event.
Jorgensen a Fast Study in Triathlon
After earning her elite triathlon license in her first-ever triathlon in March 2010, Gwen Jorgensen has a shot to make the U.S. Olympic Team just 16 months later. A former standout runner and swimmer at the University of Wisconsin, Jorgensen has been a fast study in the sport. She has collected nine top-five finishes in her 14 career ITU events. Jorgensen will compete in her third WCS event this weekend. Last month in Hamburg, she posted the day's fifth-fastest run split.
Paratriathletes in Action
While many of the nation's top paratriathletes will be in action Sunday at the 2011 Accenture USA Paratriathlon National Championship in New York City, a trio of Americans will participate in Sunday's sprint-distance elite paratriathlon event - Tommy Knapp, (TRI-4, Laguna Beach, Calif.), Sarah Reinertsen (TRI-2, Mission Viejo, Calif.) and JP Theberge (TRI-5, Carlsbad, Calif.).

Photo Credit: ITU/Jero Honda

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