HAMBURG, Germany — The U.S. team of Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.), Ben Kanute (Geneva, Ill.), Katie Zaferes (Hampstead, Md.) and Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) earned a silver medal at the ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships on Sunday in Hamburg, Germany.
The U.S. went into the race as the defending world champions, as Kasper, Kanute, Gwen Jorgensen (St. Paul, Minn.) and Joe Maloy (Wildwood Crest, N.J.) brought home the world title in 2016. Sunday’s race marked the first elite Mixed Team Relay competition since the International Olympic Committee in June announced that the event would be added to the program of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
In the Mixed Team Relay format, each athlete on the four-person team completed a 300-meter swim, 7-kilometer bike and 1.6-kilometer run before tagging off to their next teammate, with the fastest combined time winning the race.
The Australian team of Charlotte McShane, Matthew Hauser, Ashleigh Gentle and Jacob Birtwhistle took the world championship crown, covering the course in a combined time of 1 hour, 22 minutes, 38 seconds. The U.S. was just four seconds behind in 1:22:42, and the Netherlands crossed third in 1:22:47.
Kasper kicked off the relay for the U.S., and was neck-in-neck with Yuka Sato of Japan, McShane of Australia and Claire Michel of Belgium when she tagged off to Kanute for the second leg. Kanute took off in a breakaway with Dorian Coninx of France for the 7k bike. By the time he handed off to Zaferes for the third leg, he and the French team had built an 11-second lead on the rest of the field.
Zaferes pulled into the lead early in her race, giving McElroy a gap of 15 seconds on Alexis LePage of Canada, Jorik Van Egdom of the Netherlands and Thomas Bishop of Great Britain headed into the final segment.
McElroy took off on a breakaway with LePage on the bike, but LePage crashed about 1k in and was soon caught up by Birtwhistle, Van Egdom and Bishop. The chase pack then caught McElroy with about 300m to go before the final transition. In the 1.6k sprint to the finish, Birtwhistle would pull away to break the tape, with McElroy, Van Egdom and Bishop all crossing the line over the next 14 seconds.
With the win, Australia took its first-ever Mixed Team Relay world title, while the U.S. collected its third medal in the event’s nine-year history.
“This is my favorite race every year,” Kanute said. “I love it, I get pumped for it. You aren’t just racing for yourself — you’re racing for your teammates, and I think everyone on our team stepped up today.”
For more information about Triathlon Mixed Team Relays’ addition to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, click here.
The ITU elite season continues next weekend with a World Cup in Tiszaujvaros, Hungary, followed by a World Triathlon Series stop in Edmonton, Canada, on July 29.
ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships
4x 300m swim, 7k bike, 1.6k run
1. Australia, 1:22:38
2. United States (Kirsten Kasper, Ben Kanute, Katie Zaferes, Matt McElroy), 1:22:42
3. The Netherlands, 1:22:47
About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).