Hunter Kemper celebrates his 5th place finish and Olympic berth during the 2012 ITU World Triathlon San Diego Elite Men's Race on May 12, 2012 in San Diego.
Four-time Olympian Hunter Kemper has announced his decision not to pursue a record fifth Olympic Games in triathlon. He announced the decision on his website today, just hours before the start of the ITU World Triathlon Series event in Yokohama, Japan, the final leg in the qualification process for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Triathlon Team.
Had his campaign been successful, Kemper, 40, would have become the world’s first triathlete to compete in five Olympic Games. He recorded top-20 finishes in all four of his Olympic starts, with a top finish of seventh at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He also competed in Sydney (17th), Athens (ninth) and London (14th).
A week ago Kemper was on the outside of the Yokohama race looking in, 30 places deep on a wait list for a starting position. Slowed by surgery in January to address a nagging toe injury, he had slipped from No. 5 to No. 7 in the U.S. men’s field. With only six slots allotted for American entries, Kemper petitioned the International Triathlon Union for a wild-card entry, but was denied.
Although he moved rapidly up the wait list early in the week as athletes withdrew from the competition, he chose to put an end to the emotionally taxing wait on Wednesday, ending his bid for a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“I made the difficult decision on Wednesday afternoon not to travel to Japan, even though I had moved into the first position on the wait list,” Kemper said on his website. “My prayer has been that this journey would be very clear. The answers I was receiving the past few weeks seemed to be clear as doors were beginning to close…. After much soul searching, I’ve realized that I need to find peace in knowing that my goal to make it to five Olympic Games is no longer possible.”
The first American male to achieve a No. 1 ITU world ranking, he was named the United States Olympic Committee’s SportsMan of the Year and its Male Triathlete of the Year in 2005. His gold at the Santo Domingo 2003 Pan American Games was the first for a U.S. male; he also won a Pan Am Games silver medal in 1999.
Kemper won seven national championships during his career and is the longest-standing member of the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, resident program, which he joined in 1999.