The first of three opportunities to qualify for the United States triathlon team is about to begin.
In Beijing, China -- on the same course that will be used next year in the Olympics -- the U.S. women atheletes will compete for a spot on the team on September 15 (due to the time difference, that is about 2 hours from now). The men will compete the next day.
In each case, the first American to finish will be on the Olympic team. So, one woman and one man will be selected this weekend.
Two more team members will be selected based on the Honolulu Triathlon on April 26, 2008. [correction: the second qualifier will now be held in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on April 19, 2008]
The final two members will be the first Americans to cross the finish line of the Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines, Iowa on June 22, 2008.
This weekend's competitors include:
Hunter Kemper (Longwood, Fla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.) -- 2000 & 2004 Olympian; 2005 No. 1 in the World
Andy Potts (Princeton, N.J. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)-- 2004 Olympian, 2007 USAT Elite National Champion; 2007 Pan Am Games Gold medalist
Doug Friman (Alameda, Calif. / Tucson, Ariz.)-- 2004 Olympic Team alternate
Jarrod Shoemaker (Sudbury, Mass.)-- 2005 U23 World Champion
Brian Fleischmann (Jacksonville, Fla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)-- Three-time USAT Elite Nationals runner-up
Matt Reed (Colorado Springs, Colo.)-- 2004 USAT National Champion
Laura Bennett (N. Palm Beach, Fla. / Boulder, Colo.) -- 2004 Olympic Team alternate; four-time ITU Worlds medalist
Julie Swail Ertel (Irvine, Calif.)-- 2007 USAT Elite National Champion; 2007 Pan Am Games Gold medalist
Sarah Groff (Cooperstown, N.Y. / Boulder, Colo.)-- 2007 ITU Aquathlon World Champion
Sara McLarty (DeLand, Fla. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)-- 2006 USAT U23 National Champion; 2006 ITU Aquathlon World Champion
Sarah Haskins (St. Louis, Mo. / Colorado Springs, Colo.)-- 2006 USAT Elite National Champion; 2007 Pan Am Games Silver medalist
Becky Lavelle (Minnetonka, Minn. / Los Gatos, Calif.)-- 2006 USAT Non-ITU Female Triathlete of the Year