A Week Out Uncertainty

It’s one week until Olympic Trials in San Diego. If you’re paying attention, you may have noticed that I’m not on the start list. A lot of people are paying attention, so I figured I would post a quick explanation of what’s going on, how the situation came to be, and what I hope to happen in the next week that will ensure I get to start the race.

Prior to the release of the San Diego start list, I was operating under the assumption that the International Triathlon Union (ITU) would be creating the start list according to the 2011 World Championship Series results. Under this method they would take the top 30 athletes interested in racing in San Diego according to their ranking on the WCS results from 2011. This was the assumption that I made based on information received from USA Triathlon, as well as the fact that the ITU website listed the 2011 rankings as their most current WCS rankings. The start list for these races is filled by taking the first 30 from the WCS rankings, then filling the remainder from the ITU points list, which is a point ranking that reflects all ITU races and extends from year to year. Last year I did very few races that contribute to the WCS ranking, so I was always planning to get in as one of the 40 athletes selected from the ITU points list. I raced early in the year and got my ranking up to the 40’s. This, I felt was high enough to ensure a start in San Diego so I stopped racing and focused on training. USAT seemed to be thinking along the same lines and they affirmed my decision. By the time the start list was created my rank had slipped ot the 60’s, but with 70 athletes on the start line and not all of the top 70 athletes in the world asking for a start it seemed safe that I would get in.


Instead of using the 2011 WCS rankings, the ITU chose to use the 2012 rankings. How can they use a ranking from a series that hasn’t started? Well, last year there was a race in Yokohama, Japan, which was postponed because of the tsunami. It was held a week or two after the World Championships in Beijing and at the last minute they decided to count the points toward the 2012 series, instead of putting them into the 2011 series post-finale. Now, the issue with that is that many of the top athletes didn’t race in Yokohama. Some were protesting holding a race in questionable waters, but most were just done racing after Beijing because they were ranked high enough not to need to race anymore. So while the top 30 on the ITU points list is almost identical to the top 30 on the 2011 WCS rankings, The top 30 finishers in Yokohama are very different from the top 30 on the points list.

What all that means is that instead of getting in as the first 30 from the WCS rankings, the top athletes in San Diego got in as the next 40, off the ITU Points list. The WCS Rankings drew in some athletes with very low ITU Points List rankings (as high as 180th). So the athletes chosen for San Diego were very different than expected, and the easiest way to get in would have been to race in Yokohama. It turns out I wouldn’t have even needed a very good result in Yokohama to get in to San Diego because not all of the top 30 finishers in Yokohama signed up for San Diego. Regardless, I was injured at that time, so I couldn’t have raced had I known they were going to use the race as the primary qualifier for San Diego.

Knowing that Yokohama was being used as the primary qualifier for San Diego would have changed my approach this spring, however. I could have race another continental cup and had my ITU Points LIst ranking back in the 30’s or 40’s at the time the list was created. It would have been pretty actually. I already have a Brazilian Visa and there were two races in Brazil after I got back from Mooloolaba.

Instead, I found myself in 10th on the wait list when the start list was created. As of Friday, I’m 4th on the wait list. Greg Billington is 1st on the wait list which means when I roll on I’ll be the eighth and final American.

Notice I say “when”. It’s only a week out, but I’m planning to race. I’m in San Diego now, I’m ready to race and when four people on that start list drop out – for whatever reason – I’ll be ready to go. The meeting is Wednesday, if anyone is missing, I’ll be there to take their spot. Hopefully the list rolls a bit more after this weekend. I’d like to know for sure that I’m racing as soon as possible, but I’m confident that it will move and I will get to race. So confident that I’ve invited a posse of friends and family to come watch. I don’t intend to have the biggest cheering section at the event without someone to cheer for.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. Just got an email from USA Triathlon letting me know that I’m now 3rd on the wait list. Greg Billington is now on the start list. Looking good!

  2. thanks for the update Ben. I have been checking sites daily for the updated list. It would be a shame to not have what “I” consider to be the top American right now on the start list. Your form is great and I hope you get in and make the team.


  3. Crossing my fingers for you Ben! This seems like an epic travesty for USAT. I can’t believe how they could be so dysfunctional.

  4. Well, we’re 45 hours out right now. It’s not looking good. The race briefing yesterday had all 70 athletes in attendance, meaning the wait list hasn’t moved at all. I’m number two behind Fabio Cavalho from Brazil, and he was also at the race briefing. This means that I have until race check in on Saturday for two people to drop out for me to be able to race. I feel great, and I’m ready to go if they call. I wouldn’t wish illness or injury on anyone, so I’m just hoping that if someone is already injured or sick that they make the choice to give someone else a chance to race. Until I hear otherwise, I’m just giving myself the best chance to race well. Otherwise, it looks like I’ll have a bunch of friends and family here to watch the race with.

  5. This happened to me at a World Cup in Portugal in 2007. I went to the race not officially in the race. I lucked out and got a spot, but they knew this by the meeting.

    I feel for you man.

  6. It wasn’t to be for me today. With just moments to go before the check in deadline there were two people still missing and I was on the edge of my seat. But in the final minute both athletes showed up and claimed their timing chips. I didn’t get to race.

    Hunter Kemper and Manny Huerta were both in the top 9, giving them automatic qualification for the US Olympic Team. I’m super proud of both of them, and I know they’ve worked their asses off for this. It was an amazing effort for both.

    Honorable mention is Greg Billington. This is his first year in the big leagues after finishing 4th at U23 World last year. He finished 15th today and was right in contention for with a big pack running for the top 10. He’s also my training partner – so I have a bit of a bias – but I think Greg is going to be one of the USA’s great triathletes in the next few years.

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