The Races to Paris: Where Team Great Britain Stand

22 May, 2024 | español

The Races to Paris: Where Team Great Britain Stand

How do you solve a problem like Britain? There will be voices in almost every country that will claim that they are the envy of the world but when it comes to the British women’s triathlon team, it may be fair to say that it is one of the few cases in which the phrase rings true.

Britain is the only country to have had four women make it onto WTCS podiums since the Tokyo Olympic Games. Moreover, it is the only country currently able to field three female WTCS race winners at a race and there has only been one season since 2017 in which Britain has not put at least one woman on the overall world title podium. The squad has strength in depth and strength in, well, strength which makes the race to make the Olympic team one of the most fascinating to behold.

On the men’s side, GB also faces the challenge of pairing a defending silver and gold medallist with a teammate. Here they can stick with history and turn to a triple Olympic medallist. Or they can twist and trust a rising cohort of new faces. When it comes to the British triathlon selection headaches, there are not many countries that will relate.

Who is on the team?

Beth Potter and Alex Yee have already punched their tickets to Paris and will be among the favourites to win Olympic gold this summer. Potter secured her spot the hard way by winning the Paris Test Event and WTCS Final in Pontevedra last season. She won four races in 2023 – her wins in Abu Dhabi and Montreal accompanied those in Paris and Pontevedra – on her way to claiming the world title. Should her form this year match that of last season, she will be the favourite when the racing in Paris begins.

Meanwhile, Yee won the Paris Test Event which was enough to ink his name on the team after he claimed silver at the Tokyo Olympic Games and won subsequent WTCS races. Golds in Cagliari and Abu Dhabi last year gave him three WTCS wins for the second straight season. Although the world title eluded him, he has proven himself to be among the main contenders for Olympic gold. Most significantly, he is arguably the fastest runner in the men’s field.

What is required to qualify?

As things stand, the expectation is that there are two further women’s spots to be filled and one on the men’s side. To determine the recipients of these slots, WTCS Cagliari is expected to be an unofficial referendum of sorts.

A podium finish there would most likely guarantee a place on the team alongside Potter and Yee. In the event no one makes it onto the podium in Cagliari, all of the remaining slots will probably fall under the discretion of the national selectors and all manner of considerations could come into play.

Which women are the mix?

That the deciding race falls in Cagliari will be to the joy of one woman in particular. Georgia Taylor-Brown, the 2020 world champion and reigning Olympic silver medallist, won the race in both 2022 and 2023 and therefore has a perfect record at the event. Should she make it three wins in a row this month, she will almost certainly join Potter in Paris.

Sophie Coldwell is a WTCS race winner after an astonishing performance at WTCS Yokohama in 2023 reaped the gold medal. She also took the silver medal in Abu Dhabi last year and has a lengthy history of WTCS podiums and relay success behind her.

Then there is Kate Waugh. The 2022 World U23 champion threw her name into the ring with a sparkling silver medal behind Potter at the Championship Finals Pontevedra last year. Being the youngest of the three contending medallists, Waugh may have the most headspace to rise.

When considering recent form, Taylor-Brown won a bronze medal at the Europe Cup in Quarteira and then a silver medal at the World Cup in Lievin. Waugh also scored a small psychological boost by beating Coldwell at the Europe Cup in Melilla, finishing 2nd to Coldwell’s 3rd. Equally, only so much can be read into their season openers and the stage was altogether different to that of the WTCS arena.

Waugh was the only one of the trio to race WTCS Yokohama prior to Cagliari, scoring a top-10 finish. That choice could also have some bearing on their performances in Cagliari.

All told, the race between the British women feels too close to call at this stage. The point that matters is that a WTCS medallist, and potentially even a WTCS winner, will be left at home when the British team fly to Paris.

Which men are in the mix?

Jonathan Brownlee, a triple Olympic medallist, was a part of the British relay that won gold in Tokyo. However, he now faces an uphill battle to join Yee in Paris. Brownlee is not on the start list in Cagliari, where he won the silver medal in 2022, and is coming off of a 2023 season in which he finished inside the top-25 at a WTCS race once (he placed 17th in Montreal). He did win a silver medal at the European Championships (albeit over the duathlon format) but his form over the past year has left him vulnerable.

One athlete primed to maximise the opportunity is Barclay Izzard. After logging four top-25 WTCS finishes in 2023, including a personal best 8th place in Sunderland, Izzard has plenty of momentum behind him. Significantly, he has become a central part of British relay, helping them to silver medals at the European Games, WTCS Sunderland and the Paris Test Event.

Samuel Dickinson has muscled his way into contention and is the second-ranked British man behind Yee in the world rankings. A World Cup medallist, injury has left him a little behind in the Olympic qualification rankings but he will get to stake his claim for Olympic selection at WTCS Cagliari.

The wildcard is Hugo Milner, still fairly new to the world stage but already a World Cup winner. Milner might also be the only man capable of giving Yee a run for his money in the third discipline. The selectors therefore have the choice between Brownlee’s rich experience and the raw potential of Izzard, Dickinson, Milner and more.

Watch WTCS Cagliari on TriathlonLive and stay abreast with all the latest updates across the World Triathlon channels.


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