Taylor Knibb replaced for WTCS Grand Final as Katie Zaferes caps return season in Pontevedra

Staff Reporter

Newly crowned IRONMAN 70.3 World Champion Taylor Knibb looks to have called an end to her short course season after securing Olympic qualification at the Paris Test Event two weeks ago, as the versatile American stokes the fire amid Kona and an IRONMAN debut rumours.

With Knibb withdrawing from the start list at the WTCS Grand Final in Pontevedra, former World Champion Katie Zaferes will take her place, as the World #43 continues to chase Olympic qualification and re-establish herself at the top level of racing following the birth of her first child.

Following eighth place at the first round of the Super League Triathlon Championship Series over the weekend, Zaferes now has an action-packed racing schedule lined up, with Super League races in Toulouse and Malibu sandwiching the Grand Final at the end of the month in Spain.

Another shot at Olympic qualification

For Zaferes, the place on the start line at the Grand Final offers one more chance this season to secure qualification to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, with the Team USA selection policy, which prioritised the Test Event, offering selection through their Tier 2 criteria which requires a podium finish in Pontevedra.

Katie Zaferes bike WTCS Hamburg finals 2023 photo credit: Tommy Zaferes / World Triathlon
[Photo credit: Tommy Zaferes / World Triathlon]

After starting her comeback with 37th at WTCS Abu Dhabi and then three consecutive Americas Triathlon Cup podiums in Sarasota, Missouri and Punta Cana, Zaferes steadily improved throughout the year to secure spots at further WTCS races, the Olympic Test Event and now the Grand Final.

With a top finish of fifth at WTCS Montreal in June, a podium is in reach for Zaferes in Pontevedra and her participation in the Super League Championship Series may give her the race sharpness and preparedness needed to race at her best in Spain and give the Tokyo Olympic Individual Bronze medalist a shot at another podium next summer.

However, she will be competing against not only a world class field with agendas of their own in Pontevedra but also a strong cast of American women, all of whom have an eye on achieving selection to the Games in Paris. In particular, Olympian Summer Rappaport, World #3 Taylor Spivey and World #18 Kirsten Kasper will be there to push Zaferes all the way.

Whatever ends up happening, this sub-plot of the women’s race will be incredibly interesting to watch unfold and will give a good indication, if one of the aforementioned athletes qualify, of Gwen Jorgensen’s hopes to secure an Olympic berth next year, as the 2016 Olympic Champion watches this race from the sidelines.

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.
Latest News
Hayden Wilde WTCS Grand Final Pontevedra 2023
Hayden Wilde reacts to agonising world title miss after a dramatic day at WTCS Finals Pontevedra
Alex Yee WTCS Pontevedra 2023
WTCS Pontevedra 2023 results: Full finishing order and times as Yee and Wilde endure agony
Dorian Coninx, Tim Hellwig, Pierre Le Corre - World Triathlon Championship Finals Pontevedra
2023 WTCS Finals Pontevedra Men’s Results: Coninx takes the win and the world title
Grace Norman - World Para Triathlon Championships Pontevedra 2023
World Paratriathlon Champs 2023 results wrap from Pontevedra
Daneil Baekkegard finishing second at IRONMAN 70.3 Dubai 2022
Daniel Baekkegard battling mystery illness as Dane races against time for Australian goal