Morgan Pearson Makes History with World Triathlon Series Win

Photo Courtesy: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno

Morgan Pearson Makes History with World Triathlon Series Win

Morgan Pearson won the World Triathlon Series Championships Series race in Yokohama, Japan, Saturday, the first American man to win a world series event since 2009.

Pearson had medaled three times before on the world circuit, but no American man had gotten on the top step of the podium since Jarrod Shoemaker in Hamburg in 2009. Pearson completed the elite men’s course – 1,500-meter swim, 40-kiometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run – in 1 hour, 42 minutes, 5 seconds. His 10k time was 29:11, the fastest in the field.

He voided a pileup on the final la of the bike race to set himself up for the run.

“I knew I could win one of these, but these guys are beasts and training just as hard as me,” Pearson told USA Triathlon. “Everyone wants to win. You can be in the shape of your life and still have things go wrong or someone be fitter. You just have to show up and give it your best and today my best was good enough. Last year I had some back problems and I did Miami (this March) to do an Olympic-distance race and test my health rather than (racing) Abu Dhabi. This is a nice way to start the season, but of course we all know who is missing today and it’s still a long way to Paris.”

Fellow American Matt McElroy finished 13th, with Darr Smith and Seth Rider 25th and 26th, respectively.

On the women’s side, Olympian Taylor Knibb won another medal in Japan. A gold medalist there in 2021 before she won Olympic silver in Tokyo in the mixed relay, she added silver in the elite women’s race.

Knibb finished in 1:53.04, 36 seconds behind the winning time of France’s Leonie Periault.

Fourth was Taylor Spivey, who is ranked fourth in the world this year with two podium finishes. Though she has yet to qualify for Paris, she is in strong position. As is Kirsten Kasper, who finished fifth.

Gwen Jorgensen, the Olympic gold medalist at the Rio Olympics in 2016, finished 15th, having returned to the sport in 2022. Tokyo Olympic qualifier Summer Rappaport was 49th.

The Yokohama event was the last automatic qualification event for the Paris Olympics. (Pearson and Knibb qualified at the Paris Test Event in 2023.) Discretionary selections will be made between now and mid-June based on performances at WTCS and World Cup races. Up to three men and three women can be among the 55 competitors in each event. There are a men’s event, a women’s event and a mixed relay, in which Knibb and Pearson helped the U.S. to silver in Tokyo.

Four American athletes also won gold in their paratriathlon classifications in Yokohama at the World Triathlon Para Series.

Three-time Paralympian Chris Hammer won the men’s PTS5 title in the sprint distance. Mark Barr, a three-time Paralympian in triathlon and swimming dating back to 2004 and a former Division I swimmer at Cal Poly, won the men’s PTS2 race.

Hailey Danz captured the women’s PTS2 race. Kelly Elmlinger won the PTS4 classification. Danz, a two-time Paralympic silver medalist, and Elmlinger are both qualified for Paris, as is Barr. Hammer, 38, is still vying for a place in Paris, which would be his fourth Paralympics.

Owen Cravens won bronze in the PTVI classification with guide Ben Hoffman. Rachel Watts was second in the PTS3 women’s race. Cravens is one of 10 American athletes already qualified for the Paralympics in Paris.

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