Taylor Knibb is arguably the most exciting prospect to hit standard-distance triathlon in years.
Although still comparatively tender of age, her experience of hitting form at the events that matter make her an almost certain legend-in-waiting…
Who is Taylor Knibb?
The hottest name in triathlon right now, Taylor Knibb can be whatever she wants to be. Yet to reach her 25th birthday, barring serious injury the world is her oyster.
At the age of 20, she was already a three-time world champion; a stack of honours will surely be coming her way over the forthcoming seasons.
With her mother being an age-group world title holder at the ITU long distance world championships, perhaps Knibb’s destiny was preordained. She’s certainly not disappointed yet.
Not only does Knibb have terrific physical prowess (no one can get near her on the bike leg), but being a psychology graduate from Cornell suggests she may just have the mental edge, too.
Her most impressive short-course victory to date was at the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) Finals in Edmonton in August 2021, a success so runaway that her contemporaries must be quaking in their run shoes.
But the biggest career win so far was taking the 2022 Ironman 70.3 world title at the end of October, ahead of a world-class field.
If the future is unwritten, Taylor Knibb is right there, ready to fill up the page with all the achievements yet to come.
How old is Taylor Knibb?
Taylor Knibb was born on 14 February 1998, making her 24 years of age.
Taylor Knibb career highlights
September 2016: The world’s best junior receives her coronation
Knibb takes the junior world championship in Cozumel, an achievement she repeats 12 months later in Rotterdam.
July 2017: A WTS silver is a proper teenage kick
When she takes a precocious second place in Edmonton, 19-year-old Knibb becomes the youngest podium finisher in World Triathlon Series (WTS) history. Among those beaten are her compatriots Katie Zaferes, Summer Rapaport and Taylor Spivey.
September 2018: Still untouchable while climbing the age categories
A third world title in as many years comes Knibb’s way when she wins the U23 crown on Australia’s Gold Coast, arriving home at a canter, a minute and a half ahead of France’s Cassandre Beaugrand.
May 2021: Taylor Knibb will go to the Olympics
After the season was written off due to the pandemic, Knibb starts the 2021 season off in fine form, taking her maiden WTCS victory in Yokohama.
But the win is more significant than that: it secures her berth in the US triathlon team for the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics, making Knibb – at 23 – the youngest ever triathlete to be selected for the US squad for the Games.
July 2021: An Olympic triathlon medallist at 23
After her commanding victory in Yokohama, Knibb’s performance in the individual race at the Olympics – where she comes in in 16th place – has to be something of a disappointment, albeit a character-building experience. A few days later, she bounces back to take silver as part of the US quartet in the mixed relay.
August 2021: Dominant performance knocks everyone into the shade
Following her second place in Montreal the weekend before, Knibb’s victory in the WTCS Finals in Edmonton is arguably the most impressive of her career thus far. She was first to exit the water and then rode the bike leg two and a half minutes faster than anyone else.
Although this comfortable lead is cut in half on the run, it remains sufficiently ample to take an unhurried win – and, with it, claim second place overall in the series.
August 2021: Knibb vanquishes one of the legends of the sport
At the inaugural Collins Cup in Slovakia, Knibb gives the US team the perfect start when she wins the opening match, in which she beats four-time Ironman world champ Daniela Ryf by nearly 17 minutes. Knibb’s time is the fastest among the women.
September 2021: Bronze medal at the Ironman 70.3 worlds
Having made her Ironman 70.3 debut the previous month in Boulder – where she took silver, despite riding the bike leg on a road bike, not a TT steed – Knibb takes bronze at the 70.3 worlds in Utah.
In November, she finishes fifth at the WTCS race in Abu Dhabi.
April 2022: 70.3 debut victory
Takes her maiden half-Ironman win on home ground in California.
September 2022: Victory snatched in Dallas
October 2022: Becomes the world 70.3 champion
Takes bronze at the WTCS Cagliari race on 8 October, and then heads to St George, Utah for the 70.3 Worlds on the 28th. She leads from early on the bike and holds a huge gap to the rest of the field for much of the race before taking the title in 4:03:20.
November 2022: Silver in Bermuda; bronze in the Series
Hops over to Bermuda a week after the 70.3 Worlds and adds another WTCS silver to her rapidly growing medal collection.
Taylor Knibb in quotes
On being selected for the US Olympic team for Tokyo by winning the WTCS race in Yokohama: “I knew, based on my 2019 results, that I wasn’t going to earn a discretionary selection, so if I wanted a change, I had to just go out and earn it. I had nothing to lose.”
On winning Olympic silver in the mixed relay in Tokyo: “The overarching feeling for me was grateful: for the opportunity to race, to execute a good race, and to be able to share the experience with three incredible people.”
On an extraordinary 2021 season: “I don’t really know if I had expectations. It’s hard to know. You’re dealing with the human body. Everyone else and your competitors are also human bodies. It’s just unpredictable. And I don’t love expectations because they can sometimes be a limiter. They could be both a limiter or a motivator, but it depends on how you harness them.”
On winning the 2022 70.3 world title: “2022 Ironman 70.3 World Champion! I still can’t quite believe it.”
What’s next for Taylor Knibb?
Going one better than her overall silver in the 2021 WTCS series is an obvious goal for 2023 as she chases Olympic qualifying points. The other eye is fixed on the farthest of horizons. “My biggest goal would be LA 2028.”
Top image credit: Justin Tafoya/Getty Images for Ironman