What a race it was in Yokohama! With a dominant performance on the bike, 23-year-old Taylor Knibb qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team via her gold-medal showing. And Morgan Pearson, picking off people with a blistering 29:30 10k, became the first U.S. man to qualify for the Tokyo Games by snagging the bronze in the men's race.
Knibb and Pearson join Summer Rappaport as the first three U.S. athletes to qualify for the Olympic Triathlon Team — the rest of the team will be named via discretion by USA Triathlon's Games Athlete Selection Committee.
Our guest this week is the gutsy and aggressive Tokyo-bound Taylor Knibb!
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In Today's Show
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Interview with Taylor Knibb
Taylor Knibb and Morgan Pearson qualified for the U.S. Olympic triathlon team with podium finishes at a World Series event in Yokohama, Japan, on Saturday. Knibb, at 23 set to become the youngest U.S. Olympic triathlete since the sport was added in 2000, led an American one-two in the women’s race with Summer Rappaport, who in 2019 became the first U.S. triathlete to qualify for Tokyo.
“I wasn’t really thinking about [the Olympics],” Knibb said, according to USA Triathlon. “I was just trying to get to the finish line.”
Knibb and Rappaport will be joined on the Olympic team by one more woman, a committee discretionary selection. A prime candidate is Katie Zaferes, the discretionary selection in 2016 who was the top American in the World Series in 2017, 2018 and 2019, winning the world title in 2019.
Interview with Taylor Knibb.
Taylor Knibb was inspired to become a triathlete after she watched her mom, Leslie Knibb, compete in an IRONMAN race and noticed the positive atmosphere. She tried a kids’ race and was hooked on the sport from there, working her way through USA Triathlon’s youth elite and junior elite pipelines. Up to this day, her favorite part of competing in triathlons is the camaraderie within the triathlon community, as well as the challenge of always growing and improving within the sport. In high school, she joined her school’s cross-country team while continuing to compete in triathlons. She was named the Washington D.C. Gatorade Cross Country Runner of the Year and the D.C. State Athletic Association Runner of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. She was the 2015 and 2016 USA Triathlon Junior Elite national champion, the 2015 ITU Junior World Championships silver medalist, and 2016 and 2017 ITU Junior world champion. Also, in 2017, she became the youngest woman to earn a spot on the podium at an ITU World Triathlon Series race after she won silver at the WTS stop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Then in 2018, she earned the title of ITU Under-23 World Champion. Knibb considers the ITU Under-23 World Championships to be one of her favorite moments of her career because she accomplished a solid performance across all three disciplines. Knibb currently runs NCAA Division I cross-country and track & field at Cornell University, where she is pursuing a degree in psychology.
Taylor Knibb was crowned 2015 and 2016 USA Triathlon Junior Elite national champion, 2015 ITU Junior World Championships silver medallist, and 2016 and 2017 ITU Junior world champion. Also, in 2017, she became the youngest woman to earn a spot on the podium at an ITU World Triathlon Series race after she won silver at the WTS stop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Then in 2018, Taylor earned the title of ITU Under-23 World Champion.
- 2nd place at the 2019 Santo Domingo ITU Triathlon World Cup
- 3rd place at the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Mixed U23-Junior Relay
- 14th place at the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Lausanne - Elite women
- 16th place at the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Triathlon Olympic Qualification Event
-3rd place at the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Edmonton
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YOKOHAMA, Japan — Taylor Knibb, a 23-year-old Cornell University graduate from Washington, D.C., qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team with a gold-medal performance at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Yokohama, Japan. Knibb becomes the youngest woman in history to make the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.
Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), the only other U.S. triathlete already qualified for Tokyo based on her finish at the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event in 2019, joined Knibb on the podium with silver.
The race in Yokohama marked the second and final auto-qualification opportunity for the U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team. With Knibb and Rappaport having now punched their tickets to Tokyo, the third and final spot on the women’s team will be named via discretion by USA Triathlon’s Games Athlete Selection Committee. For a complete explanation of U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team qualifying, click here.
Knibb has been the USA Triathlon National Team’s youngest member since she first made the team in 2017. A triathlete since childhood, she grew up competing in USA Triathlon’s youth and junior elite circuit. She went on to win the 2016 and 2017 Junior World Championships and the 2018 Under-23 World Championships — one of just three women ever to capture world titles at both the Junior and U23 levels. Knibb is a 2020 graduate of Cornell, where she ran NCAA track and cross-country for four years while balancing her elite triathlon career. She also joined the Cornell swim team her senior year. Today, Knibb trains in Boulder, Colorado, with Origin Performance Squad, an elite international triathlon training group.
In 2017, Knibb became the youngest athlete in history to medal in a World Triathlon Championship Series event when she earned silver in Edmonton, Canada. Today’s gold in Yokohama marks her first-ever World Triathlon Championship Series victory.
Saturday’s race featured a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run. Knibb executed her race in signature style — starting with a top-five swim, then breaking away on the bike alongside the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma about 25k into the 40k course.
By the time they hit the second transition, Knibb and Kingma had a 90-second gap on the rest of the field. Knibb quickly moved into the lead on the run, leaving Kingma behind and clocking a 35-minute, 9-second 10k. She broke the tape in a total time of 1 hour, 54 minutes, 27 seconds — 30 seconds clear of Rappaport, who ran her way through the field to take the silver medal. Kingma rounded out the podium in 1:55:05.
“It was an awesome race — and thank you to Maya and all the other racers,” Knibb said. “I wasn’t really thinking about (the Olympics). I was just trying to get to the finish line, so one thing at a time! But I’m extremely grateful. Maya was so good through the technical sections, so I learned a lot and I have a lot of work to do on that part, but I was just trying to stay focused.”
For Rappaport, the silver marked her second straight podium in Yokohama. The last year the race was held, in 2019, Rappaport was part of a U.S. podium sweep, taking silver alongside Katie Zaferes (gold) and Taylor Spivey (bronze).
“Japan is one of my favorite places to race, and I love coming back to Yokohama to race year after year,” Rappaport said. “I was so happy we were able to hold the races here under safe conditions, and I’m so happy I was able to come back here and be part of a 1-2 American finish. I feel like today I really found my competitive fire again.”
Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) finished just off the podium in fourth place, 18 seconds behind Kingma.
Also racing for the U.S. were Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), who placed 14th in 1:56:25; 2019 world champion and 2016 U.S. Olympian Katie Zaferes (Cary, N.C.), who was 22nd in 1:57:12; and Renée Tomlin (Ocean City, N.J.), who was 45th in 2:03:20.
The elite season heads next to Lisbon, Portugal, from May 21-23. The Lisbon races include individual World Triathlon Cup events and a Mixed Relay competition. The Mixed Relay will debut as an Olympic medal event at the Tokyo Games.
2021 World Triathlon Championship Series Yokohama
1,500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run
Elite Women — Complete Results
What's New in the 303:
Gwen Erffmeyer Inglis died on May 16, 2021, as the result of an impaired driver who struck her while Gwen was doing what she loved, riding her bike.
Gwen was born on October 12, 1974 to Gerald and Carol Erffmeyer. In high school she was very active, playing basketball, volleyball and running track. She went on to play basketball and was an All-American high jumper at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she received her degree in accounting. For the past 14 years, Gwen worked as Manager of Government Account Compliance at Brown and Caldwell.
In 2004, Gwen discovered her love of cycling and began racing. This love of bikes led her to meet her husband, Mike. In 2008 they were married. As fellow cycling enthusiasts, they traveled to bike races all over the country together, often both competing once or twice in the same day, frequently both standing on podiums. She held numerous national and state champion titles. You might also see them on the tandem together, Mike on the front as the pilot, and Gwen as the stoker on the back. The words “Power Couple” were frequently heard referring to this dynamic duo. Besides being teammates on and off the bike, they were best friends, lovers of life, who lived life to the fullest. Mike and Gwen and their two dogs, Jazzy and Rascal
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