Zaferes, Undefeated in 2019, Leads U.S. Contingent into AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds

By USA Triathlon | June 06, 2019, 11:06 a.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Katie Zaferes (Santa Cruz, Calif.) aims to continue her undefeated streak in 2019 ITU World Triathlon Series competition this Sunday, as the series makes its fourth of eight stops in Leeds, England. Five women and three men will represent the United States at AJ Bell World Triathlon Leeds, which features an Olympic-distance course. 

Athletes will cover a 1,500-meter swim in Roundhay Park’s Waterloo Lake, followed by a 40-kilometer point-to-point bike into the city center. The race culminates with a 10-kilometer run that passes through the grandstands of Millennium Square on each of four thrilling laps. 

The elite women race first on Sunday at 8:06 a.m. ET (1:06 p.m. local time), followed by the elite men at 10:51 a.m. ET (3:51 p.m. local time). Both races will be broadcast live online at triathlonlive.tv, with monthly and annual subscriptions available for purchase.

Zaferes has had a dominant season to date, winning the first three WTS stops of the season in Abu Dhabi, Bermuda and Yokohama. Prior to 2019, she had never won an Olympic-distance WTS race — but after Bermuda and Yokohama, she now has two victories at that distance. 

Zaferes is on a quest to earn her first world title, which goes to the athlete who tops the overall WTS rankings at the conclusion of each season. She has steadily climbed the WTS rankings over the past several years — finishing the 2015 season ranked fifth in the world; the 2016 season ranked fourth; the 2017 season ranked third; and the 2018 season ranked second.  

Great Britain’s Jessica Learmonth and the United States’ Taylor Spivey (Redondo Beach, Calif.) are No. 2 and No. 3 respectively on the WTS Leeds start list and are tied for second in the season-long rankings. Spivey’s breakout 2019 season has included two WTS podiums — a silver in Abu Dhabi and a bronze in Yokohama. She also performed well in Bermuda, placing sixth. 

Chelsea Burns (Seattle, Wash.) is eighth on the start list, after a consistent start to the season that has seen her place no lower than 18th in a WTS event. While she has yet to crack the top-five on the WTS circuit, she is a four-time ITU Triathlon World Cup medalist.

Also representing the U.S. in the women’s race are 2017 ITU Under-23 world champion Tamara Gorman (Rapid City, S.D.) and Erika Ackerlund (Missoula, Mont.), a six-time Continental Cup medalist who is making her WTS debut in Leeds. 

The U.S. women have a challenge ahead, as several British athletes will go for glory on their home course. In addition to Learmonth, the start list also includes Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown (No. 4), Non Stanford (No.5) and defending world champion Vicky Holland (No. 10). 

On the men’s start list, the Americans are listed one right after the other: Tony Smoragiewicz (Rapid City, S.D.) at No. 27, Matt McElroy (Huntington Beach, Calif.) at No. 28, and Eli Hemming (Kiowa, Colo.) at No. 29. 

Smoragiewicz is in the midst of a standout season. He claimed his first ITU Triathlon World Cup medal earlier this year with a silver in Cape Town, South Africa; placed fourth at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup; and snagged a career-best WTS finish of 16th in Bermuda. 

McElroy is a five-time ITU World Cup medalist and five-time WTS top-20 finisher. His best WTS performance to date has been 11th, which he earned last year in Hamburg, Germany. His 2019 highlights to date include a top-20 finish in Abu Dhabi and a top-five finish at the Mooloolaba ITU World Cup.

Hemming’s top finish on the WTS circuit is also 11th, earned last year Bermuda. He came close to a personal best earlier this season though, placing 13th at the WTS opener in Abu Dhabi. Hemming, a two-time ITU World Cup medalist, led the U.S. men in Leeds last year with a 20th-place finish.  

The U.S. men will battle a stacked international field, which includes current WTS leader Vincent Luis of France; two-time Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee and two-time Olympic medalist Jonathan Brownlee of Great Britain; and Spanish multi-time world champions Javier Gomez Noya and Mario Mola. 

For complete WTS men’s and women’s start lists, visit 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 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 Committee (USOC).