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Two years of racing comes down to the ITU World Championships in Vancouver, Canada this weekend. Those of you that have been following my blogs and columns know that the men's race on Sunday, June 8 will decide whether the U.S.A. will get three starting slots for the men at the Olympics in Beijing in August.


One thing that has changed from last week's blog is that Hunter Kemper is not racing. National Team Program Director, Scott Schnitzpahn, says that Hunter is still battling an injury and is staying home to get healed. Wishing you well, Hunter, heal quickly.


That puts all the pressure on Big Matty Reed. While there is pressure on him, the rewards go to him as well. If he can, at minimum, race faster than Dmitri Polyansky, Brendan Sexton and Ivan Vasiliev he has more than likely punched his own ticket to Beijing.



Can he do it?



Critics might say he has been racing too much and due for a bad race.



Others might say he is now healthy and on a roll that won't stop. He'll race strong and fast.



Best wishes for a strong race, Matt. I'm betting on you.



Traveling to an ITU World Championship race as a representative of the United States of America is not only for elite athletes-but age group athletes too.



Each year USA Triathlon sends a team of age group athletes to race head-to-head with athletes from around the world at ITU World Championship events. USA athletes earn a slot on Team USA by qualifying for, and placing well at USA Triathlon National Championships or specified qualifying events. For a full explanation of how to qualify for a future Team USA, check it out here.



ITU will provide live coverage of the weekend of events. You can find coverage details on the ITU website. If you can't watch live, the 2008 Vancovuer BG Triathlon World Championships will be broadcast in over 160 countries.



If you have not yet had the chance to watch an elite ITU event, the Vancouver race is one to watch. For those of you unfamiliar with the format, it is a draft-legal format that includes tactics and strategy similar to bike racing. These races are fast.



Last year at the World Cup in Vancouver, the lead male swimmers came out of the water in 18 minutes. T1 was 18 seconds. The lead bike group rode 40K in under an hour, on a hilly course. T2 times of the top racers were in the 30-second range. After all of that, they ran a 10K in around 30 minutes.



Specifically, Matt Reed was third at that race and ran his 10K in 30:53.



What do you think, will Matt keep that third country slot for the U.S.A.?



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