Katie Zaferes, the Tokyo Olympic bronze and silver medalist, will have to wait until next season to secure her qualification for a second Olympic Games in Paris after failing to meet the qualifying criteria at the WTCS Finals in Pontevedra.
With Taylor Knibb the only American woman to secure her Olympic berth so far, there are still two slots left on the team and the race for selection is wide open, something that affords Zaferes, who is in her comeback season following childbirth, a little more time to get back to full fitness.
After a strong year where she progressed through the ranks to secure starts at the two most important races of the season, the Paris Test Event and Pontevedra, Zaferes has a lot of positives to take from her comeback but admitted that 19th place in Spain over the weekend “stung”.
Silver linings despite disappointment
Following the birth of her first child Kimble last July, Zaferes has been on a mission to qualify for Team USA at the Paris Olympic Games next summer, a long process which involved a string of lower-tier races in the Americas to secure enough points for starts at the World Cup and WTCS level.
Having finished 37th in her first race back at WTCS Abu Dhabi, Zaferes then secured a strong 12th in Cagliari before a season’s best result of fifth at WTCS Montreal, which helped her earn starts at top-tier events in Hamburg, Paris and most recently at the WTCS Finals in Pontevedra.
After coming home in 12th last month at the Olympic Test Event in Paris, the American knew that a podium in Pontevedra would secure Olympic qualification. However, the Maryland native eventually finished in 19th, a result Zaferes felt wasn’t an accurate reflection of her current fitness.
‘This one stung a bit’ – Katie
“This one stung a bit. I went into this race in such a good place physically, mentally and emotionally that I had higher expectations for myself. I was excited to race, enjoying the process and just felt a lot of good sensations. I know all that benefited me and will reveal itself somewhere down the line, but for today I’m just feeling disappointed.
“In the end my best today was 19th, which put me 17th in the overall series. I wanted more out of myself. I’d say the highlights were riding assertively and basically nailing all my cycling process goals, just not in the place I needed to be, and the main places I didn’t execute were transitions and the run. Which is a large part of the race.”
With plenty more opportunities to race thanks to a hectic end of season World Triathlon Cup schedule, Zaferes can practise her transitions and run speed against quality fields. Scheduled to race in three weeks time at the World Triathlon Cup in Brasilia, it will be fascinating to see if Zaferes can continue to improve on her race in Pontevedra.