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Taylor Knibb given penalty for littering in IRONMAN World Championship debut in Kona

Taylor Knibb was among a number of women to see their chances hit by penalties in Kona.

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Taylor Knibb, one of the big favourites for the IRONMAN World Championship, saw her hopes suffer a setback when she was handed a penalty for “unintentional littering” on the bike.

The American star was making her full-distance debut after successfully defending her 70.3 Worlds title recently in a season which has also seen her qualify for next year’s Olympics in Paris.

Despite that IRONMAN inexperience, all had gone to plan early on when she was in the chase pack in the swim behind clear leader Lucy Charles-Barclay.

But a sign of things to come came early on the bike when she lost a bottle from the back of her bike and another one would follow later, meaning that she briefly pulled off the road to top up her supplies at a special needs station.

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Knibb paying the penalty

Nonetheless she was still by far the closest challenger to Charles-Barclay, with the gap fluctuating between two to three minutes.

And when the penalty came, she took it in her stride – telling the team broadcasting the race the reasons for the sanction!

Taylor Knibb IRONMAN World Championship Kona 2023 Bike
Taylor Knibb in action during the bike leg of the 2023 IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii (Getty Images for IRONMAN).

Earlier, Lotte Wilms (NED) went from the chase pack to virtually out of contention after she was one of a number of women handed a five-minute penalty.

Wilms was riding close to big favourites Laura Philipp and 2019 champion Anne Haug, around eight minutes back on Charles-Barclay, but a blue card meant a five-minute spell in the penalty tent for the Dutchwoman.

Sara Svensk of Sweden and Austraia’s Penny Slater were others to be penalised.

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Blowing the whistle

Penalties were a big talking point last year – with Philipp and Lisa Norden two of the big names to be given a five-minute sanction which all but ended their podium hopes.

Indeed even a year on Philipp admitted the decision still rankles with her – and both the 70.3 World Championship races and the men’s IRONMAN World Championship in Nice this year have seen similar decisions made.

But IRONMAN CEO Andrew Messick made it clear when speaking to TRI247 earlier this week that the officials wouldn’t shy away from issuing cards if they felt it was justified: “We’re an organisation that does blow the whistle and there’s others, by the way, that don’t. It isn’t really advancing fair and safe racing to just not call penalties.

“If your commitment is to the athletes who are following the rules, you have an obligation to them to not make them look like suckers.

“So if somebody is drafting on Saturday at Kona, we’re going to show them a card.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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