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Katie Zaferes, after 23 mouth stitches, wins world triathlon title

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Katie Zaferes had every reason to smile Saturday, two weeks after receiving 23 stitches inside her mouth.

The American captured her first world triathlon title, cementing herself as the Tokyo Olympic favorite.

Zaferes won the World Series Grand Final in Lausanne, Switzerland, sitting on and then outsprinting world No. 2 Jessica Learmonth of Great Britain at the end of the 10km run. She had built up such a lead from winning four of the previous seven races this season that she needed only to finish in the top 12 to secure the championship.

The crowning moment came two weeks after Zaferes crashed in the Tokyo Olympic test event, biking into a barrier while looking behind her. She hit her face, her gums separated on impact and she suffered a broken nose.

“But luckily nothing too serious,” was posted on her social media. Zaferes returned to training within a few days for the Grand Final.

“I had a lot of emotions coming into this race after the last one, a lot of doubts,” Zaferes said Saturday. “I knew physically I would be OK, but, mentally, I had some doubts. I struggled on some of the corners [on the bike].”

That test event DNF meant Zaferes can’t qualify for her second Olympic team until next year. But there’s little doubt she will be in Tokyo next summer as U.S. triathlon’s new superstar following Rio Olympic champion Gwen Jorgensen‘s retirement and switch to marathon running.

Zaferes, much like Jorgensen four years earlier, rebounded from Olympic disappointment (came to Rio as a medal contender, finished 18th) to become the world No. 1. Her world ranking went from 16th in 2014 to fifth in 2015, fourth in 2016, third in 2017 and second last year.

Earlier Saturday, Frenchman Vincent Luis took the men’s world title, ending Spain’s six-year run at the top between Javier Gomez and Mario Mola.

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MORE: Tokyo 2020 Olympic triathlon to start early to beat the heat

2019 Ironman Kona TV, live stream schedule

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The Ironman Kona World Championships air live on NBC Sports on Oct. 12, beginning with a 90-minute NBCSN show at 12:30 p.m. ET and continuing with live streaming coverage of the men’s and women’s pro races.

The annual Ironman TV special, with athlete features woven with race coverage, airs Nov. 30 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

German Patrick Lange and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who broke their own course records last year, are expected back to headline the fields at the Hawaii event that dates to 1978.

The Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete.

Live streaming will air on NBCSports.com/live, the NBC Sports app and the Ironman Facebook page.

LIVE STREAM LINK: 2019 Ironman Kona — Oct. 12, 12:30 p.m. ET

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Tokyo Paralympic triathlon test event cancels swim due to water bacteria

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TOKYO (AP) — High levels of bacteria forced the swimming portion of a triathlon test event for the Tokyo Paralympics to be canceled Saturday.

It’s the second setback in the triathlon for organizers of next year’s Olympics and Paralympics. An Olympic triathlon running event was shortened from 10km to 5km on Thursday because of what the International Triathlon Union (ITU) called “extreme levels” of heat.

Tokyo’s hot and humid summers are a major worry for Olympic organizers. The water issues are a reminder of the Rio Games, when high bacteria and virus levels were found in waters for sailing, rowing and open-water swimming.

In a statement, the ITU said E-coli levels were “more than two times over the ITU limits.” It said the water was at Level 4, the highest risk level.

E-coli bacteria, which normally live in the intestines of animals and people, can produce intestinal pain, diarrhea and a fever.

The venue in Tokyo Bay, called Odaiba, has been a concern for organizers, who have experimented with different measures to clean the water in the area, located in an urban part of central Tokyo.

The ITU is scheduled to hold it final test event on Sunday “depending on the latest water quality tests”, it said in a statement.

A few days ago the ITU described water quality conditions at the venue as “very good.” However, swimmers at a recent distance swimming event at the same venue complained of foul-smelling water.

The water temperature at the venue on Saturday was 84 degrees Fahrenheit, with the air temperature hovering above 90.

Tokyo spokesman Masa Takaya said “we are set to conduct a comprehensive review with the international federation.”

He said a triple-layer underwater screen will be installed for next year’s Olympics, replacing a single-layer.

“Based on the results of multiple research in the past, we believe that the multiple layer screen will assure the successful delivery of the competitions,” he said.

Filthy water plagued the Rio Olympics. The South American city lacks a functioning sanitation system for much of its population. Open water there tested high for bacteria and viruses, which confronted athletes in rowing, sailing and triathlon.

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MORE: Double DQ caps bizarre Tokyo Olympic triathlon test event