It’s been a long time since Mark Allen and Erin Baker won the very first ITU/World Triathlon Olympic Distance World Championship in 1989 in Avignon, France. This time around at the Grand Final in Edmonton, Canada, Flora Duffy of Bermuda is seeking to join Emma Snowsill of Australia as a three-time champion. For the men, Kristian Blummenfelt of Norway and Alex Yee of Great Britain will pit their ferocious runs against another in order to see who will win their first crown.
While the women have so far produced just one three-time winner, Snowsill, they have fought fiercely to produce six two-time champions – Karen Smyers of the U.S., Emma Carney of Australia, Michellie Jones of Australia, Emma Moffat of Australia, Gwen Jorgensen of the U.S., and Flora Duffy (2016, 2017).
The men have produced many more multiple champions – Javier Gomez of Spain has five (2008, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015), Simon Lessing of Great Britain has four (1992, 1995, 1996, 1998) Peter Robertson of Australia (2001, 2003, 2005) and Mario Mola of Spain (2016, 2017, 2018) have three apiece. Spencer Smith of Great Britain has two (1993, 1994) and so does Vincent Luis of France (2019, 2020), who is avidly seeking a three-peat.
Coming off the recent Olympic Games, many contenders are still in peak fitness which should make for high stakes, high performance clashes.
Kristian Blummenfelt, Norway, 27 (2677 points) v. Alex Yee, Great Britain, 23 (2716 points): At the beginning of this year, Alex Yee’s prowess on the run had rivals in awe. But two performances by Kristian Blummenfelt turned the tables on Yee. At WTS Yokohama, Blummenfelt posted a 29:26 run in his win and at the Tokyo Olympics Blummenfelt ran away from Yee 29:34 to 29:44 to take the gold. This is not to say that the Norwegian has Yee's number. At Leeds, Yee won the race with a 29:46 10k, while Blummenfelt fell to 6th with 30:53 run. With eyes on the World Championship prize, both men skipped the Montreal Super Sprint so they should have plenty of gas on the tank.
Vincent Luis, France, 32 (1994 points): From 2019 through 2020, Luis dominated the World Triathlon circuit where he won a full season crown in 2019 and also took the pandemic shortened round which finished with a sprint-distance one-race finale. With time off in the 2020 season, Luis lost his apex fitness as he fell to 6th at Yokohama and 13th at the Olympics, Finally catching up to his fitness, Luis finished 3rd at the Olympic mixed relay and 2nd at the recent Montreal super sprint.
Marten Van Riel, Belgium, 29 (2438 points): Was most consistent this spring and summer as he was 2nd at the 2019 Hamburg World Triathlon finale, 5th at the 2019 Grand Final, 6th at Yokohama, 3rd at Leeds, 4th at the Olympics, 5th at the Olympic Mixed Relay and 4th at the Montreal super sprint.
Hayden Wilde, New Zealand, 24 (2265 points): Young Wilde was clutch with a 3rd at the Olympic Qualification race, 5th at Leeds, bronze at the Olympics, and a decent 6th at the Montreal super sprint.
Leo Bergere, France, 25 (2061 points): Was also consistent with a 12th at the 2019 Lausanne Grand Final, 3rd at the 2020 Hamburg World Triathlon World Championship, 8th at Yokohama, 7th at Leeds, 21st at the Olympics, and recently the bronze medalist on a 1-2-3 French men’s sweep of the Montreal super sprint.
Flora Duffy, Bermuda, 34 (2791 points): Is staking a claim to belong to the top rank of women triathletes. Before taking on the best pavement triathletes, Duffy won four XTERRA World Championships. She then went on to win several WTS races and the 2016 and 2017 World Triathlon World Championships. After losing a year to a leg injury, Duffy came roaring back with a win at the 2019 Olympic Qualification race, a 5th at the 2019 Grand Final, 4th at Leeds, a swim--bike-run domination win at the Tokyo Olympics, and a dominating win at the Montreal Super Sprint.
Taylor Spivey, USA, 30 (2324 points): After missing out on an Olympic slot despite placing 2nd in World Triathlon rankings, Spivey is motivated for Edmonton. Spivey was 4th at Yokohama and 6th at Leeds, and ever-improving 3rd at Montreal.
Maya Kingma, Netherlands, 26 (2315 points): Was red hot leading up to the Olympics with a 3rd at Yokohama, 1st at Leeds and fell off a bit as she finished 11th at the Olympics. She passed on Montreal so should be rested and ready for Edmonton.
Taylor Knibb, USA, 23 (2236 points): Broke through with a win at Yokohama, 16th at the Tokyo Olympics, 2nd at the Tokyo Olympic Mixed Relay, and took 2nd at the Montreal super sprint.
Katie Zaferes, USA, 32 (1913 points): After a big crash at the 2019 Olympic Qualifier that left her due for a long rehab, Zaferes remained off form through Yokohama and Leeds. With Zaferes’ 2019 World Championship and long history of clutch performances, USA Triathlon officials gave her the final selection to the Olympic squad. Zaferes paid back their faith with a bronze at the Olympics and a silver as part of the Mixed Relay team. Displaying fine post-Olympic form, Zaferes took 4th at Montreal.
Sophie Coldwell, Great Britain, 26 (2159 points): Now that Great Britain’s Olympic team is taking time off, Sophie Coldwell is coming into her own. After 9th at the 2019 Olympic Qualifying event, and 13th at the 2019 Grand Final, Coldwell placed 6th at Yokohama, 3rd at Leeds and 7th at Montreal.
Laura Lindemann, Germany, 25, (1792 points): Has been consistent for two years including 6th at the 2019 Olympic Qualification event, 30th at Yokohama, 9th at Leeds, 8th at the Olympics, 6th at the Olympic Mixed Relay, and recently 6th at the Montreal super sprint.