Although I sent a personal congrats to Matt Reed for his great performance at the Richard's Bay World Cup event last weekend, placing second and rocketing himself up higher in the ranking points, it slipped my mind that I didn't post the congrats on my blog. Huge congrats to him.
There are just a few important races left to score the all-important points that determine which countries get three, two, one or no athletes on the start line for the Olympic Games.
The first important race occurs this weekend and is the 2008 Lisbon ETU Triathlon European Championships. This race is considered a Continental Championship race, earning more points than a World Cup event, less than a World Championship event. For the points breakdown, look here.
There will be no USA athletes at this race, because it is a Continental Championship event. The Continental Championship event for the USA was the 2008 Mazatlan PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championship event, held the same weekend as the Tuscaloosa trials race. Our top-ranked athletes (sans Shoemaker, who already has his Olympic slot) were all at the Tuscaloosa trials race. While the trials race was exciting, there were no ITU points awarded for this event. Points are critical, especially now, as you know.
Jesse, you noticed that Polyansky popped past the USA and we lost our third men's slot. Not only did he step past the USA, he also stepped past Switerland's Olivier Marceau. Now Switzerland becomes the country we need to beat out to be the last country to secure three slots.
Unfortunately for the USA, Switzerland and Russia will have the opportunity to score points this weekend, while the USA (Hunter Kemper, Matt Reed) and Australia (Brendan Sexton) will not.
Dmitri Polyansky (RUS - three country slots): 2500
Olivier Marceau (SUI - three country slots): 2452
Hunter Kemper (USA- two country slots): 2359
Matt Reed (USA): 2305
More than likely, Polyansky and Marceau will both pass Sexton this weekend for accumulated points at this weekend's race.
Polyansky is working from a base of thirteen races, only nine of which count in the total, so his lowest scoring race will be dropped. Marceau is working from a base of only five races, so any points he accumulates will count in his total.
The next race that counts is Madrid. All of the men discussed above are on the start list for that race. As discussed previously, watch for all of the countries discussed above to be positioning their bubble-points person (or people) for a maximum points score. For us, Friman (World Rank = 72), Fretta (WR = 114) and Seymour (WR = 181) should all be working for Kemper and Reed to help them get that third country slot.
Recall, athletes must be ranked in the top 125 in the ranking to be eligible for the Games.
The final race that counts is the World Championships in Vancouver on June 8th. All of the contenders will be there as well.
After the European Championships, I can give you a better guess at what needs to happen for the USA to get that third slot back.
If we do not get the third men's slot back by the end of the World Championships race (the cut off for Olympic ranking points), Big Matty Reed loses his Olympic slot. The final slot will be determined at the Des Moines race. Carefully read the USAT's Amended Selection Criteria at this link to see the selection process in print.
You can watch the European Champs as well as the Madrid race live on the ITU website, Tricast Live.