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© Frank Wechsel / triathlon.org
Selecting Team GB for 2012
Posted by: JohnLevison
Posted on: Friday 4th May 2012


Tags  Jodie Stimpson  |  Liz Blatchford  |  London 2012  |  Olympic Games  |  Tim Don  |  Vicky Holland  |  Will Clarke


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How do you select an Olympic Team?

How, or perhaps more precisely 'who' (you select) is an occupation many athletes and selectors will have been considering for months if not years. For British Triathlon, and a small number of elite triathletes in the hunt for one of those elusive Olympic start places, that decision making should all be done and dusted somewhere around this time next month, following the ITU WTS Madrid race.

I don't know the answer(s) to all of the many questions that will be asked, but, I thought I would at least try to address some. Statistically and objectively at least, 'opinion' and views to one side. But, how might I try and do that?

Let's rewind first and set the scene.

  • Baring something very strange happening between now and the conclusion of the World Triathlon Series Madrid race at the end of May, Team GB will have earned three places each, male and female, for the Triathlon event at the London 2012 Olympic Games (4th August / 7th August 2012).
  • British Triathlon has a detailed selection policy on qualification procedures, and you can read that in full HERE.
  • Who is the selection panel? More details on those is also available HERE.
  • How many places are left to select for? One for the men (Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee already proposed), and two for the ladies (Helen Jenkins proposed),
  • The three athletes mentioned all met the stated 2011 qualification criteria of (in simple terms...), 'podium at either London 2011 or Beijing 2011, plus one other 2011 WCS event'. All three made the podium at both (and others during the year too), job done.
  • What about the other places? Remaining places are discretionary, i.e. there are no other specific, measurable criteria set that if achieved, guarantee your spot.
  • The discretion will be based on identification of any additional potential medal contenders based on ITU WCS/WTS races from 1st Jan 2011 to 31st May 2012. If the answer to that is deemed negative, the selection committee can/will consider domestique(s) based on the same WCS/WTS events, plus World Cup and Continental Cup races over the same period, along with ETU Senior Champs 2010/11/12.
  • What is a domestique? From the Olympic Games Selection Policy: "a ‘domestique’ is a team member whose primary role is to support other athletes during the triathlon race at the Olympic Games, in order to maximize the medal winning potential of the Team. A domestique will be an athlete who, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, has the ability to contribute to the medal-winning potential of the Team, even though he or she may not be considered a medal contender or the ‘next best’ allround triathlon competitor.
  • There is a lot more 'small print' in the selection policy regarding confirmation of fitness, obligations, qualities and characteristics - which I'll leave for the purposes of this article.

Individual or Team?

Selection of course does generate a very interesting question: should the Great Britain team be selected on the basis of those athletes who are deemed to have proven to be one of the best three British athletes, irrespective of their (in the selectors opinion), potential to win a medal? For many (all?) athletes in the mix for one of the remaining spots, especially with it being a home Olympics Games, of course they would feel the answer must be yes, and that they has earned their place at the Olympic Games.

The other viewpoint of course is that if we have three such strongly fancied potential (gold) medal winners in Alistair, Jonny and Helen, wouldn't it be madness not to do everything possible to help them reach that potential? Triathlon has been on the Olympic programme for the last three Games; six races, no Team GB medals. That's not a statistic that sits well with a country that has so consistently performed at every other event in the sport, and certainly doesn't reflect the ability of British triathletes. The whole of the British Cycling Road Race squad will be picked with the single objective of trying to get Mark Cavendish into the lead of a sprint with 200 metres to go on 28th July (a team tactic executed so brilliantly in Copenhagen last year) - should the same logic not apply to swim / bike / run?

©Triathlon.org | Delly Carr / ITU - Colin Jenkins & Simon Whitfield

British Triathlon is, to a significant extent, funded by the UK Sport World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) - more on that HERE). A primary objective of the WCPP is to win medals on the international sporting stage, the Olympic Games being the pinnacle. "UK Sport has developed a No Compromise approach, which ultimately means taking no short cuts in resourcing the best athletes to realise their medal ambitions." In the case of triathlon, 'resources' could thus mean team mates in the form of domestiques...

Of course, potentially all of the talk around domestiques, and arguments for 'merit' or 'team' might not come to anything. Given the strength of our three fully fit and pre-qualified team, do we have athletes in a position to make a positive contribution towards their success anyway? The way the Brownlees race together, do they need (or want) a domestique? That could be a series of articles in itself...

These questions though are not the purpose of this article. Let's assume all athletes are to be selected on merit, and merit is judged as earned through the results of the premier ITU World Series races since 2011. On that basis - with San Diego and Madrid still to come - who should be selected?

Selection - A Statistical Approach

There have been eight selection races (Sydney 11/12, Madrid 11, Kitzbuhel 11, Hamburg 11, London 11, Beijing 11, Yokohama 11) to consider on that basis.

(Note: the ITU World Sprint Triathlon Championships, Lausanne 2011 did form part of the 2011 WCS Series, but, is (officially) NOT considered for Team GB Olympic selection purposes, as per a British Triathlon press release on 12th August last year: "The Lausanne event is not being considered towards Olympic selection, whereas the rearranged Yokohama event on 19 September will count towards achieving point 4.1.4 (b) of the selection policy and 2012 Dextro Energy Triathlon ITU World Championship Series points.")

I've looked in detail at all of the results (listed at the foot of this article should you wish to review), with the 'objective' (!) of trying to show - if selection is made on merit, and not for domestique / other purposes - who is currently in the (statistical) driving seat for the remaining spots?

I've analysed the following items:

  • No. of WCS/WTS starts (The 'World Championship Series' (WCS) was rebranded as World Triathlon Series (WTS) for 2012)
  • No. of finishes (i.e. where DNF's)
  • Best finishing position
  • Worst finishing position
  • Average finishing position
  • No. of times (excluding results of the Brownlee brothers and Helen Jenkins) athlete was 'first Brit'
  • No. of times (excluding results of the Brownlee brothers and Helen Jenkins) athlete was 'second Brit'

British Ladies

Ladies first, if only because the situation is arguably less clear than for the men. Here is the data:

Athlete
No. of Races
No. of Finishes
Best Finish Pos. 
Worst Finish Pos. 
Average Finish Pos.*
Top Brit**
Top Brit %
2nd Brit **
Top two % ***
Blatchford, Liz
4
4
8th (twice)
27th
15th
2
50%
2
100%
Hall, Lucy
2
1
37th
37th
37th
 
0%
1
100%
Holland, Vicky
6
6
12th
57th
26th
1
17%
3
67%
Lang, Kerry
7
4
36th
52nd
37th
 
0%
 
0%
Rosindale, Lois 
1
1
41st
41st
41st
 
0%
 
0%
Stanford, Non
4
3
11th
39th
29th
1
33%
 
33%
Stimpson, Jodie
8
8
9th
45th
22nd
4
50%
2
75%
Thorrington, Abbie
1
1
41st
41st
41st
 
0%
 
0%

(* excluding DNF's / ** excluding Helen Jenkins results / *** represents percentage of race finishes as one of the first two British finishers (excluding Jenkins))

So, lots of numbers but what does/might it actually say?!

  • Liz Blatchford (8th) has the best individual finishing position over the 2011/12 period, and she has achieved this twice (Sydney 2011, Beijing Grand Final 2011).
  • Only one other athlete, Jodie Stimpson (9th, Hamburg 2011) has recorded a top-10 finish.
  • Liz Blatchford's 'worst' finish (27th, Kitzbuhel 2011) is 'better' than the 'worst' (!) finish of all of the other British athletes. That was her only result outside of the top-20.
  • Not surprisingly, the best 'average' also belongs to Liz (15th), with Jodie Stimpson (22nd) and Vicky Holland (26th) the next best.
  • Both Liz Blatchford and Jodie Stimpson have been the top (non-Jenkins) British finisher at half of their (four and eight respectively) events, and have been first or second (non-Jenkins) British finisher in 100% and 75% respectively of all of their races.
  • Vicky Holland has been consistent (two-thirds of her races she has been first or second non-Jenkins British finisher), though only one of her six races was she first (Yokohama 2011).

A Conclusion?

Well, purely based on this data - and these wise words might apply (!) - it indicates that Liz Blatchford might be the leading contender for one of the two remaining spots (excluding the domestique issues...), with Jodie Stimpson heading Vicky Holland for the third place. Possibly.

How about on a head-to-head basis across those eight races. How does that match up?

Blatchford raced Holland three times: Three-Nil in Blatchford's favour
Blatchford raced Stimpson four times: Three-One in Blatchford's favour
Stimpson raced Holland six times : Three-Three level pegging...

Again, consistent with the position-based results above, Liz Blatchford appears to be the clear "second best after Jenkins" athlete, while Stimpson and Holland are very close for third. Of course, Non Stanford might be making a late charge if she can back-up her Sydney result where she finished ahead of Blatchford, Stimpson and Holland!

©Triathlon.org | Delly Carr / ITU

British Men

Is the situation more clear cut for the men? With just one slot remaining, is Will Clarke the clear 'third man', as we titled our recent interview? Let's look at the numbers:

Athlete
No. of Races
No. of Finishes
Best Finish Pos. 
Worst Finish Pos. 
Average Finish Pos.*
Top Brit**
Top Brit %
2nd Brit **
Top two % ***
Bowden, Adam
5
5
7th
58th
32nd
1
20%
1
40%
Clarke, William
7
7
2nd
24th
11th
6
86%
1
100%
Don, Tim
6
6
6th
51st
21st
1
17%
3
67%
Hayes, Stuart
5
5
13th
56th
35th
 
0%
2
40%
Jenkins, Marc
1
1
42nd
42nd
42nd
 
0%
 
0%
Leckie, Todd
4
3
23rd
32nd
29th
 
0%
1
33%
McNamee, David
3
2
17th
19th
18th
 
0%
 
0%
Wiltshire, Harry
3
3
32nd
57th
48th
 
0%
 
0%

(* excluding DNF's / ** excluding A&J Brownlee results / *** represents percentage of race finishes as one of the first two British finishers (excluding Brownlees))

Again, some key points:

  • Will Clarke has the best individual finishing position (and the only podium, 2nd, Hamburg 2011), plus he also has a further three top-10's including 4th (Kitzbuhel).
  • Only Tim Don (three times) and Adam Bowden (once) have secured a top-10 finish.
  • Of his seven races, Will has only been beaten by a 'non-Brownlee' Brit once (Tim Don, Sydney 2011 - 6th vs. 9th respectively).
  • Will's 'average' finish (11th), is 10 places higher than that of Tim Don.

A Conclusion?

As indicated at the opening, on these stats, Will Clarke does appear to be strongly in the 'third Brit' position right now. Based on his three top-10 finishes from six races, Tim Don would appear to be clear as the next best candidate, and his overall numbers would look more impressive without the 'shockers' of Kitzbuhel (46th) and London (51st). Based on our interview with Will, he is aware of that and regards Tim as his biggest danger.

For San Diego, Jonathan Brownlee is joined by Clarke, Don, Bowden, McNamee, Aaron Harris and Todd Leckie based on start-lists at time of writing. Game on.

©Triathlon.org | Delly Carr / ITU

ITU WCS/WTS Results Extract 2011/12 - Ladies

(Brit Posn. = position relative to British athletes racing, excluding Helen Jenkins)

Sydney
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
10th April 2011
8
Blatchford, Liz
00:22:00
00:00:50
01:03:22
00:00:21
00:35:56
02:02:32
1
12
Holland, Vicky
00:22:10
00:00:49
01:03:12
00:00:20
00:36:16
02:02:49
2
 
23
Stimpson, Jodie
00:22:20
00:00:48
01:03:08
00:00:21
00:37:05
02:03:43
3
 
33
Jenkins, Helen
00:22:09
00:00:48
01:05:56
00:00:27
00:35:19
02:04:43
 
 
36
Lang, Kerry
00:21:56
00:00:50
01:03:27
00:00:21
00:38:10
02:04:47
4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Madrid
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
4th/5th May 2011
2
Jenkins, Helen
00:19:23
00:01:07
01:08:29
00:00:21
00:34:29
02:03:58
 
15
Stimpson, Jodie
00:19:31
00:01:09
01:08:20
00:00:21
00:37:13
02:06:42
1
 
22
Holland, Vicky
00:19:37
00:01:10
01:08:45
00:00:21
00:38:18
02:08:40
2
 
41
Thorrington, Abbie
00:19:14
00:01:17
01:08:29
00:00:23
00:41:25
02:11:00
3
 
 
Stanford , Non
00:20:06
00:01:12
00:00:00
00:00:00
00:00:00
00:00:00
DNF
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kitzbuhel 
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
18th/19th June 2011
2
Jenkins, Helen
00:18:44
00:00:57
01:10:49
00:00:27
00:35:00
02:05:56
 
19
Stimpson, Jodie
00:19:06
00:00:58
01:10:27
00:00:33
00:36:58
02:08:01
1
 
27
Blatchford, Liz
00:19:14
00:01:02
01:10:37
00:00:29
00:37:07
02:08:27
2
 
 
Lang, Kerry
00:19:28
00:00:59
01:10:29
00:00:28
00:00:00
00:00:00
DNF
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hamburg
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
16th/17th July 2011
9
Stimpson, Jodie
00:18:53
00:00:47
01:00:16
00:00:27
00:34:29
01:54:50
1
37
Hall, Lucy
00:18:21
00:00:41
01:01:02
00:00:26
00:37:29
01:57:57
2
 
 
Lang, Kerry
00:18:50
00:00:49
01:03:32
00:00:28
00:00:00
00:00:00
DNF
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
London
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
6th/7th August 2011
1
Jenkins, Helen
00:19:31
00:00:39
01:06:06
00:00:33
00:33:48
02:00:34
 
14
Stimpson, Jodie
00:19:29
00:00:38
01:06:08
00:00:35
00:34:43
02:01:31
1
 
17
Holland, Vicky
00:19:28
00:00:40
01:06:08
00:00:36
00:34:53
02:01:44
2
 
39
Stanford , Non
00:20:09
00:00:41
01:05:27
00:00:37
00:36:21
02:03:13
3
 
52
Lang, Kerry
00:19:20
00:00:43
01:06:15
00:00:42
00:38:42
02:05:39
4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Beijing
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
10th/11th Sept 2011
2
Jenkins, Helen 
00:19:11
00:00:41
01:03:12
00:00:41
00:34:57
01:58:40
 
8
Blatchford, Liz 
00:19:10
00:00:40
01:03:16
00:00:36
00:36:29
02:00:11
1
 
34
Stimpson, Jodie 
00:19:25
00:00:43
01:05:14
00:00:39
00:36:58
02:02:58
2
 
39
Lang, Kerry 
00:19:10
00:00:48
01:05:22
00:00:39
00:37:49
02:03:46
3
 
57
Holland, Vicky 
00:19:17
00:00:40
01:08:30
00:00:37
00:39:27
02:08:27
4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Yokohama
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
19th Sep 2011
6
Jenkins, Helen 
00:19:27
00:00:36
01:04:28
00:00:24
00:35:04
01:59:58
 
12
Holland, Vicky 
00:20:12
00:00:39
01:03:38
00:00:25
00:35:47
02:00:39
1
 
18
Stimpson, Jodie 
00:20:04
00:00:36
01:03:46
00:00:26
00:36:46
02:01:37
2
 
36
Lang, Kerry 
00:20:13
00:00:39
01:03:35
00:00:26
00:38:54
02:03:46
3
 
38
Stanford, Non 
00:20:59
00:00:40
01:02:50
00:00:25
00:39:37
02:04:30
4
 
41
Rosindale, Lois 
00:21:07
00:00:37
01:02:49
00:00:27
00:40:19
02:05:16
5
 
 
Hall, Lucy 
00:19:23
00:00:39
01:04:36
00:00:25
00:00:00
00:00:00
DNF
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sydney
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
14th April 2012
2
Jenkins, Helen 
00:19:35
00:01:33
01:05:33
00:00:22
00:34:32
02:01:38
 
11
Stanford, Non 
00:20:05
00:01:37
01:04:58
00:00:22
00:35:35
02:02:43
1
 
18
Blatchford, Liz 
00:19:38
00:01:37
01:05:27
00:00:28
00:35:57
02:03:12
2
 
38
Holland, Vicky 
00:19:41
00:01:31
01:05:26
00:00:22
00:37:40
02:04:45
3
 
45
Stimpson, Jodie 
00:20:05
00:01:36
01:04:59
00:00:24
00:38:09
02:05:16
4
 
 
Lang, Kerry 
00:20:02
00:01:42
 
 
 
 
DNF

ITU WCS/WTS Results Extract 2011/12 - Men

(Brit Posn. = position relative to British athletes racing, excluding Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee)

Sydney
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
10th April 2011
2
00:19:32
00:00:41
00:59:26
00:00:17
00:30:31
01:50:29
 
6
00:20:03
00:00:46
00:58:51
00:00:21
00:30:52
01:50:58
1
 
9
00:19:39
00:00:46
00:59:18
00:00:19
00:31:16
01:51:19
2
 
25
00:19:44
00:00:43
00:59:16
00:00:19
00:32:13
01:52:17
3
 
29
00:19:28
00:00:43
00:59:28
00:00:19
00:32:51
01:52:51
 
 
42
00:19:54
00:00:47
00:59:08
00:00:16
00:33:58
01:54:05
4
 
49
00:19:43
00:00:45
00:59:47
00:00:21
00:34:31
01:55:11
5
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Madrid
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
4th/5th May 2011
1
00:18:09
00:01:03
01:01:25
00:00:23
00:30:08
01:51:08
 
2
00:18:12
00:00:58
01:01:27
00:00:20
00:30:13
01:51:10
 
 
24
00:18:25
00:01:03
01:02:44
00:00:20
00:31:29
01:54:01
1
 
35
00:18:21
00:01:04
01:02:45
00:00:24
00:32:13
01:54:47
2
 
55
00:18:10
00:01:02
01:03:04
00:00:19
00:35:13
01:57:48
3
 
58
00:19:05
00:01:04
01:08:10
00:00:20
00:33:19
02:01:58
4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kitzbuhel
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
18th/19th June 2011
1
00:17:18
00:00:58
01:02:14
00:00:24
00:31:01
01:51:54
 
4
00:17:38
00:00:59
01:02:33
00:00:24
00:31:37
01:53:08
1
 
13
00:17:22
00:01:00
01:02:12
00:00:25
00:32:49
01:53:45
2
 
17
00:17:44
00:00:58
01:02:31
00:00:26
00:32:16
01:53:52
3
 
32
00:17:25
00:00:56
01:02:54
00:00:23
00:33:05
01:54:42
4
 
46
00:17:30
00:00:55
01:02:41
00:00:24
00:35:16
01:56:43
5
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hamburg
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
16th/17th July 2011
2
00:17:31
00:00:40
00:55:48
00:00:24
00:29:47
01:44:09
1
7
00:17:33
00:00:43
00:55:43
00:00:23
00:30:12
01:44:33
2
 
32
00:17:51
00:00:40
00:55:32
00:00:23
00:32:09
01:46:34
3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
London
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
6th/7th August 2011
1
00:18:09
00:00:36
01:01:02
00:00:34
00:29:50
01:50:09
 
3
00:18:10
00:00:35
01:02:15
00:00:30
00:29:35
01:51:04
 
 
14
00:18:17
00:00:36
01:02:10
00:00:34
00:30:31
01:52:05
1
 
32
00:18:31
00:00:37
01:01:57
00:00:32
00:31:14
01:52:48
2
 
46
00:18:19
00:00:39
01:02:05
00:00:35
00:31:56
01:53:32
3
 
51
00:18:30
00:00:36
01:01:56
00:00:35
00:32:40
01:54:15
4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Beijing
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
10th/11th Sept 2011
1
00:17:11
00:00:35
00:59:59
00:00:34
00:29:49
01:48:07
 
3
00:17:11
00:00:37
00:59:57
00:00:34
00:29:59
01:48:17
 
 
15
00:17:23
00:00:36
00:59:50
00:00:36
00:31:04
01:49:28
1
 
32
00:17:50
00:00:36
01:00:33
00:00:35
00:31:18
01:50:49
2
 
40
00:17:25
00:00:54
01:00:41
00:00:35
00:32:16
01:51:49
3
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Yokohama
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
19th Sep 2011
7
00:18:54
00:00:37
00:59:14
00:00:24
00:31:10
01:50:18
1
8
00:18:48
00:00:33
00:59:22
00:00:20
00:31:23
01:50:25
2
 
19
00:19:00
00:00:36
00:59:13
00:00:24
00:32:29
01:51:40
3
 
23
00:19:09
00:00:35
00:59:04
00:00:21
00:32:45
01:51:54
4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sydney
Pos
Name
Swim Open
Transition
Bike Draft Legal
Transition
Run
Total
Brit Posn**
14th April 2012
8
00:18:03
00:01:19
01:00:34
00:00:21
00:31:21
01:51:43
1
11
00:18:19
00:01:26
01:00:09
00:00:25
00:31:41
01:52:02
2
 
56
00:17:55
00:01:24
01:00:42
00:00:27
00:36:37
01:57:10
3
 
57
00:17:48
00:01:18
01:00:58
00:00:20
00:39:27
01:59:54
4
 
 
00:18:02
00:01:21
01:00:34
00:00:26
00:00:00
00:00:00
DNF
 
 
00:18:16
00:01:20
00:00:00
00:00:00
00:00:00
00:00:00
DNF


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