EDMONTON, Alberta — The U.S. team of Summer Rappaport (Thornton, Colo.), Seth Rider (Germantown, Tenn), Taylor Knibb (Washington, D.C.) and Morgan Pearson (Boulder, Colo.) earned a bronze medal Sunday at the ITU Triathlon World Mixed Relay Series stop in Edmonton, Alberta. With that performance, the U.S. returns to the mixed relay podium for the first time since the series opener in March in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Rappaport, who earned a silver medal in Saturday’s individual ITU World Triathlon Series race, led things off for the U.S. She came out of the water third, just steps behind the Netherlands’ Maya Kingma and Great Britain’s Sophie Coldwell, and the trio formed a strong lead group on the bike. Rappaport then broke away from Kingma and Coldwell on the run and handed off to Rider with seven seconds on the British team.
“My goal was to just give the team as big of a gap as possible — drill the swim, drill the bike, and drill the run,” Rappaport said. “I was really happy to be able to hand off and help us stay in good position for the entire race.”
Rider stayed in the mix in leg two, riding alongside Saturday’s men’s WTS champion Jonny Brownlee of Great Britain and New Zealand’s Tayler Reid. The British and Kiwi powerhouses pulled away from Rider on the run, but he kept the Americans in podium position as he handed off to Knibb for leg three.
It didn’t take long for Knibb to close the gap, working her way up to join Great Britain’s India Lee and New Zealand’s Nicole Van Der Kaay on the bike. Van Der Kaay then made a move on the run to solidify the Kiwis’ lead as she handed off to Hayden Wilde for the anchor leg. Wilde went slightly off-course on the swim leg though, allowing Pearson, Great Britain’s Gordon Benson and Australia’s Matt Hauser the chance to catch back up to form a group of four.
Ultimately, Wilde recovered his lead on the run and stormed to the win, giving New Zealand a total time of 1 hour, 20 minutes, 14 seconds. Benson anchored Great Britain to the silver medal in 1:20:23. Hauser had to serve a 10-second penalty on the run for an illegal handoff earlier in the race, enabling Pearson to drop the Australian and sprint to the bronze medal with a total team time of 1:20:30.
Australia came through just three seconds later in 1:20:33, and the Italians rounded out the top-five in 1:21:37.
The U.S. Mixed Relay Team has been made up of a different combination of athletes in every series stop this year. Top-end speed and technical skills in the super-sprint format will be critical for selection to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team, as the discipline will feature as a medal event for the first time at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
“This year we’ve developed a huge strength in numbers on the men’s side,” Rider said. “There are six, seven, eight different guys you that could put in and have a really good relay team.”
The 2019 ITU World Mixed Relay Series concludes Aug. 18 in Tokyo, as part of the Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event. At each event, teams earn points to bolster their nation’s Mixed Relay Olympic qualification ranking.
2019 ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Edmonton
4x300m swim, 6k bike, 1.6k run | Complete Results
1. New Zealand, 1:20:14
2. Great Britain, 1:20:23
3. United States (Summer Rappaport, Seth Rider, Taylor Knibb, Morgan Pearson), 1:20:30
4. Australia, 1:20:33
5. Italy, 1:21:37
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 at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — 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 & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).