GOLD COAST, Australia — U.S. triathlete Katie Zaferes is ranked No. 1 in the world heading into the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, taking place this weekend in Gold Coast, Australia, at the Broadwater Parklands at Southport. Zaferes is just 34 points ahead of Great Britain’s Vicky Holland in the overall ITU World Triathlon Series rankings, meaning whoever finishes ahead of the other in Gold Coast will claim the world title.
The ITU World Triathlon Grand Final is the last stop in the ITU World Triathlon Series, and the world championship podium is comprised of the top-three athletes in the series at its conclusion. Five U.S. women, including Zaferes, and three U.S. men are on the start list to compete in Gold Coast.
The elite women race Saturday, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) and the elite men follow on Sunday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET). The races feature a 1,500-meter swim in the Coral Sea at Broadwater Tourist Park, a 38-kilometer bike along Gold Coast Highway and a 10-kilometer run that finishes at Mitchell Park. A live broadcast available at triathlonlive.tv. Both races will also air live on NBC’s Olympic Channel, and a livestream will be offered on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App.
Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.), a 2016 U.S. Olympian, has ended the season ranked no lower than fifth in the ITU World Triathlon Series since 2014. She ended the season at No. 5 in 2015, No. 4 in 2016 and No. 3 last year, claiming the world bronze medal. Should she finish ahead of Holland in Saturday’s race, she will become the first U.S. world champion since Gwen Jorgensen claimed the title in 2015. Zaferes has had a standout season to date, reaching the podium at five of seven regular-season WTS races.
Fellow Americans Kirsten Kasper (North Andover, Mass.) and Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) are ranked No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, in the series. Kasper has finished in the top-five at three WTS races this year, while Spivey’s season best has been seventh. Both reached the WTS podium for the first time in 2017.
Also competing for the U.S. on Saturday are Summer Cook (Thornton, Colo.) and Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.). Cook’s top WTS finish this season has been seventh in Yokohama, Japan, in May, while Burns nearly cracked the top-10 last month with an 11th-place finish in Montreal, Québec.
For a complete women’s start list, visit wts.triathlon.org.
Representing the U.S. in Sunday’s men’s race are Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.), Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) and Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.).
McElroy is the top American in the series, ranked No. 30 heading into Gold Coast. He recorded a career-best 11th-place WTS finish in Hamburg, Germany, in July, in addition to claiming two consecutive ITU Triathlon World Cup medals in March.
Hemming’s WTS career best is also 11th, recorded in Bermuda in April. He earned two CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup victories this season, including a win at the CAMTRI North American Championships in Sarasota, Florida, in March. A three-time ITU Under-23 World Championships competitor, Hemming is racing in the elite Grand Final for the first time.
Pearson is in his first season as an elite on the ITU circuit. He earned his elite license just last August by winning the USA Triathlon Age Group Sprint National Championships in Omaha, Nebraska, and went on to place seventh in his first professional race, the Mooloolaba ITU Triathlon World Cup in March. Pearson was the top U.S. finisher at ITU World Triathlon Yokohama in May, taking 14th, and earned his first elite victory in August at the Montreal CAMTRI Sprint Triathlon American Cup.
For a complete men’s start list, visit wts.triathlon.org.
Of the eight U.S. athletes competing in the elite ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, seven are products of USA Triathlon’s Collegiate Recruitment Program. The program, launched in 2009, was created to fast-track the talent transfer of NCAA swimmers and runners to compete at the elite level in triathlon. The CRP also launched the triathlon career of 2016 Olympic gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen. For more information, visit usatriathlon.org/crp.
The ITU World Triathlon Grand Final also features ITU Paratriathlon, Junior, U23 and Age Group (Sprint and Standard-Distance) World Championships. For complete event schedules, course maps and more for the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final, visit goldcoast.triathlon.org.
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 events and connects with more than 400,000 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).