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Alistair Brownlee, double Olympic triathlon champ, wins Ironman debut, eyes Kona

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Alistair Brownlee, the only triathlete with multiple Olympic titles, added an Ironman victory in his debut at the distance in Cork, Ireland, on Sunday, though the 2.4-mile swim was canceled.

The Brit earned a spot at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on Oct. 12 and intends to race there.

“That’s one of the reasons I came today,” Brownlee said. “I’ve hopefully got a few years in me. I’ll be going to Kona this year for very much a bit of a learning experience and see how it goes.”

Brownlee, who has said he is undecided on a Tokyo 2020 run, made up a 16-minute, 56-second deficit after the 112-mile bike to win in 7:49:20. The field lacked the world’s best Ironman triathletes, like Germans Patrick Lange and Jan Frodeno (2008 Olympic champion). The 2.4-mile swim was canceled due to poor weather.

Olympic-distance triathlons are a .93-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike and a 6.25-mile run.

Many triathletes have signaled the end of Olympic careers when moving up to the Ironman, such as Frodeno and two-time U.S. Olympian Sarah True. But Brownlee did not seem ready to join them.

“I’d love to be [in Tokyo], but I only want to be there if I feel I can be competitive,” he said after winning the European Championship for a fourth time on June 2, according to the Press Association.

Brownlee, 31, reportedly said in August that he was “50-50” on going for Tokyo and had to decide between focusing on Olympic or Ironman distances.

He won four half Ironmans between 2017 and 2018 (sandwiched by a hip surgery), then finished second to Frodeno at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship on Sept. 2.

MORE: Katie Zaferes leads U.S. sweep of World Triathlon Series podium

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Dan Hicks, Rowdy Gaines call backyard pool swim race

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Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines covered swimming together at the last six Olympics, including every one of Michael Phelps‘ finals, but they’ve never called a “race” quite like this.

“We heard you were looking for something to commentate during the down time….might this short short short course 100 IM help?” tweeted Cathleen Pruden, posting a video of younger sister Mary Pruden, a sophomore swimmer at Columbia University, taking individual medley strokes in what appeared to be an inflatable backyard pool.

“Hang on,” Gaines replied. “This race of the century deserves the right call. @DanHicksNBC and I are working some magic!”

Later, Hicks posted a revised video dubbed with commentary from he and Gaines.

They became the latest commentators to go beyond the booth to post calls on social media while sports are halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBC Sports hockey voice Doc Emrick (who has also called Olympic hockey and water polo) did play-by-play of a windshield wiper installation.

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MORE: Ledecky, Manuel welcome Olympic decision after training in backyard pool

Which athletes are qualified for the U.S. Olympic team?

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Soon after Tokyo Olympic qualifying events began getting postponed, the International Olympic Committee announced that all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes.

The IOC repeated that position over the last week, after the Tokyo Games were postponed (now to open July 23, 2021). What does that mean for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee?

Well, 76 athletes qualified for the U.S. Olympic team before the Olympic postponement was announced. That full list is here.

Those 76 athletes can be separated into two categories.

  • Athletes who earned Olympic spots BY NAME via International Federation (i.e. International Surfing Association or International Aquatics Federation) selection procedures.
  • Athletes named to the U.S. Olympic team by their national governing body (i.e. USA Swimming or USA Track and Field) and confirmed by the USOPC using NGB selection procedures after the NGB earned a quota spot.

When the IOC says “all quota places already allocated to National Olympic Committees and athletes will remain with those NOCs and athletes,” it means just that. USA Softball still has 15 athlete quota spots from qualifying a full team via international results. Surfer Kolohe Andino still has his Olympic spot from qualifying BY NAME via the International Surfing Association selection procedures route.

USA Softball named its 15-player Olympic roster last fall. Those 15 athletes did not earn Olympic quota spots for themselves. Unlike Andino (and 13 other American qualifiers across all sports), the 15 softball players had to be nominated by USA Softball and confirmed by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Unless and until the USOPC confirms that any of those other 62 athletes remain qualified, for now the list of U.S. Olympic qualifiers is these 14 who qualified BY NAME:

Karate (1)
Sakura Kokumai

Modern Pentathlon (2)
Samantha Achterberg
Amro Elgeziry

Swimming (3)
Haley Anderson
Ashley Twichell
Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport Climbing (4)
Kyra Condie
Brooke Raboutou
Nathaniel Coleman
Colin Duffy

Surfing (4)
Caroline Marks
Carissa Moore
Kolohe Andino
John John Florence

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MORE: Qualified athletes go into limbo with Tokyo postponement