By Paul D. Bowker | May 11, 2018, 12:01 a.m. (ET)
Kirsten Kasper competes in the elites women's race at World Triathlon Leeds on June 11, 2017 in Leeds, England.


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Kirsten Kasper, who is the top-ranked woman in the World Triathlon Series standings, leads a group of 21 U.S. elite triathletes and paratriathletes into this weekend’s races in Yokohama, Japan.

Kasper is among two U.S. women who are in the top 10 of the world rankings. Katie Zaferes, a 2016 Olympian, is tied for ninth following a bronze-medal finish two weeks ago in Bermuda.

Saturday’s elite men’s and women’s races mark the beginning of the qualification period for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The action begins with the elite women’s race, 9:06 p.m. ET Friday.

Joining Kasper and Zaferes in the women’s race are Taylor Spivey, Summer Cook, Chelsea Burns and Tamara Gorman.

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Eli Hemming, who is 22nd in the elite men’s rankings after an 11th-place finish at the second stop, is among four Americans in the men’s race. Joining him are four-time world cup medalist Kevin McDowell, five-time world cup medalist Matt McElroy and Morgan Pearson, who is making his WTS debut.

The event consists of a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike race and 10-kilometer run.

Paralympic champions Grace Norman and Alyssa Seely are among 11 U.S. athletes competing in the paratriathlon events.

TV: 9 p.m. ET Friday, 12 a.m. Saturday, Olympic Channel

Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.