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Triathletes facing wait for return of elite competition

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Home comforts: Bermuda triathletes Erica Hawley, left, Flora Duffy and Tyler Smith take to the Railway Trail during a training session on island at the end of last year
Home comforts: Bermuda triathletes Erica Hawley, left, Tyler Smith and Flora Duffy tackle Harbour Road during a training session on island at the end of last year

Bermuda’s elite triathletes are facing a frustrating wait to return to competitive action, with the World Triathlon Championship Series and the World Triathlon World Cups not due to start until May at the earliest.

As a result and after a meeting between the World Triathlon Executive Board, in consultation with athletes, coaches, and medical and technical committees, Olympic and Paralympic qualification will not restart before May 1. A final decision is expected to be made next Thursday.

After the outbreak of Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic last March, World Triathlon froze the qualification rankings for the Games. Since then, no events that have been staged by the sport’s world governing body have counted towards those ranking places.

In December, World Triathlon agreed to not restart the qualification process before March 15 after an executive board meeting, with that delay now being extended to May, less than three months before the scheduled start of the Games in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8.

The Japanese city of Miyazaki was scheduled to host the first World Cup event of the season on March 20 and 21; however because of travel restrictions still present in the region, the Japanese Triathlon Union and the local organising committee have decided to cancel the event.

The eight-race series now looks set to start in Yokohama, with racing in the Japanese city still scheduled to take place on May 15 and 16.

While some athletes have been left sweating over their Olympic qualification, as things stand with the process remaining frozen, Flora Duffy is in line to qualify for the Games on the basis of her present ranking.

One hundred and ten participants, split evenly between men and women, are expected to compete in Tokyo with each of the eligible respective National Olympic Committees selecting their athletes who are inside the top 140 of the rankings.

Having claimed victory at the Tokyo Olympic Test Event in August 2019, Duffy earned an Olympic berth for Bermuda. The two-times world champion, is 27th in the Elite women’s Olympic rankings on 3903.98 points, with compatriot Erica Hawley in 123rd on 636.44 points, meaning both would be eligible for selection.

Meanwhile, Bermuda’s Tyler Smith remains 188th in the Elite men’s rankings with 249.71 points having finished 26th at the Arzachena ITU Triathlon World Cup event in Italy in October and 32nd at the Valencia ITU Triathlon World Cup in Spain a month later.

While Duffy’s Olympic prospects remain fairly comfortable at this point in time, she will be confident of enhancing her position in the standings should qualification resume, having finished joint top in the World Triathlon women’s final rankings for last season.

Back-to-back gold medals in World Cup events in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic and Arzachena, Italy, as well as second in Hamburg, allowed Duffy to finish with a total of 1,925 points to take top spot alongside Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown.

The 33-year-old ended last year with a niggling knee injury, forcing her to withdraw from the Valencia ITU Triathlon World Cup and Professional Triathletes Organisation 2020 Middle Distance World Championships.

However, she has since recovered and returned to training in Stellenbosch in South Africa's Western Cape province.

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Published March 11, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 10, 2021 at 6:51 pm)

Triathletes facing wait for return of elite competition

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