Taylor Spivey: Background, career highlights, quotes

While a WTCS win has eluded her thus far, USA's Taylor Spivey has been a consistent presence in triathlon over the years. This is her story so far...

Triathlete Taylor Spivey exits the water

Over the past half-decade, Taylor Spivey has proved herself to be one of the most consistent athletes in WTS competition.

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Although she’s yet to take a race win in the series, the Californian is always there or thereabouts. And not even Olympic disappointment can dull her effusive sense of ambition. Here, we take a look at her story so far…

Who is Taylor Spivey?

Being the daughter of a Californian couple who met when they were competing in an Ironman might suggest that Taylor Spivey’s destiny was cast before she was born. Not a bit of it.

Her parents both gave up the sport when Spivey Jr was very young and it played no part in her upbringing. Instead, young Taylor represented her country at competitive surf life-saving.

It wasn’t until the final year of her degree (she was an architecture major) that Spivey took up triathlon, attracted to it while on an overseas field trip in Florence. She was something of an outlier.

Taylor Spivey competes at the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Championships (Credit: Steve McCrank/MediaNews Group/Torrance Daily Breeze via Getty Images)

Not only did most of the American triathletes of this generation have a running background, rather than Spivey’s water-based heritage, but her late arrival in the sport meant she didn’t work her way through the junior ranks. Indeed, she only took part in a single U23 race. Otherwise, it’s been elite racing all the way.

Since 2016, when she joined the WTS circus, Spivey has been a byword for consistency. Girlfriend to France’s elite tri star, Vincent Luiz, Spivey’s a frequent top-five finisher, having twice finished fourth overall in the series. That WTS race win, however, continues to elude her.

What has also eluded her is appearing at the Olympics, having missed out on the third and final berth in the US squad for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. After Summer Rappaport and Taylor Knibb bagged the two automatic slots, the one remaining place was down to the selectors’ discretion.

It was a straight choice between Spivey and Katie Zaferes. And despite the former being much more in form than the latter, it was Zaferes who got the nod, seemingly based on her historical ability to win medals – namely, the world title in 2019. Never mind the fact that Spivey was currently the number two-ranked female triathlete on the planet.

How old is Taylor Spivey?

Taylor Spivey was born on 13 April 1991, making her 30 years of age.

Taylor Spivey’s career highlights

Taylor Spivey stands on the podium with her bronze medal at the 2021 World Triathlon Championship Finals in Edmonton (Credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto)

September 2016: Baptism of fire

In her first full WTS season, Spivey achieves her series-best performance in Edmonton, where she finishes in 11th place. However, no fewer than four of her compatriots – Summer Rappaport, Sarah True, Katie Zaferes and Kirsten Kasper – make the top six, indicating just how tough it is to be a female American triathlete at Olympic distance.

June 2017: A silver on her Leeds debut

Spivey registers arguably the biggest win of her career to date when she makes a WTS podium for the first time, thanks to her comfortable second place in Leeds. Her notable scalps include former world champ Non Stanford, Ashleigh Gentle and Jess Learmonth.

September 2018: World Cup triumph in the Far East

After scoring three runners-up spots over the past 18 months of ITU World Cup racing (in Madrid, Miyazaki and Cagliari), Spivey takes her maiden victory in Weihai in China.

March 2019: Silver in Abu Dhabi sets up the season

Taylor Spivey hurries through transition during the 2019 AJ Bell World Triathlon race in Leeds (Credit: George Wood/Getty Images)

After the 2018 season showed Spivey to be an athlete of metronomic consistency (six top 10 finishes in the WTS series from six attempts), 2019 is the year that she really stepped up to the plate to demand she be taken seriously as a contender.

Her season gets off to a terrific start with second place in Abu Dhabi in March, followed by more of that trademark consistency: 6th in Bermuda, 4th in Leeds, 6th in Hamburg, 5th in Edmonton and 9th in Lausanne. These results place Spivey fourth overall for the season.

November 2019: Brilliance in the Balearics

Spivey follows up an impressive 2019 WTS season with victory in the Equalizer and Eliminator race at Super League Mallorca.

September 2020: Fourth in the short, sharp title race

The pandemic dictates that the WTS championship is decided by a single, sprint-distance race in Hamburg.

Britain’s Georgia Taylor-Brown, Bermudan Flora Duffy and Germany’s Laura Lindemann take the podium places, but Spivey repeats her fourth place of 12 months earlier. It makes her the first American home, three seconds ahead of her compatriot Zaferes.

August 2021: A series bronze is the reward for Ms Consistency

Taylor Spivey competes with fellow American Katie Zaferes during the 2021 World Triathlon Championship Finals in Edmonton (Credit: Artur Widak/NurPhoto)

Fifth place at the WTCS Grand Final in Edmonton secures Spivey’s first appearance on the 2021 series podium, coming third overall after further top-five finishes in Montreal, Hamburg and Yokohama.

However, this dependability fails to earn her a spot in the US team for the Olympics. Despite being the number two-ranked female triathlete in the world, Spivey doesn’t get selected for Tokyo.

Taylor Spivey in quotes

On missing out on selection for the Tokyo Olympics, despite being ranked number two in the world: “I’m perfectly content with knowing that the best athletes go to the Olympics and represent the US team, but I don’t think that was the case this year. I think it was a big mistake.”

On the future: “The road ahead of me is windy. It’s not a straight line, and it’s full of peaks and valleys. Some days are tough, some days are successful, but that’s what keeps me going.”

On possibly going long in the coming years: “I can see myself doing a 70.3. I don’t know about Ironman yet, but I’m sure my mindset will change over time.

“But there’s something about this draft-legal format that I really enjoy. It feels more like a race. You can hear each other’s breath. You’re neck and neck a lot of the time.”

What’s next for Taylor Spivey?

Katie Zaferes, Taylor Spivey and Summer Cook celebrate their top three finish at the Yokohama ITU Triathlon in 2019 (Credit: Delly Carr/Getty Images)

Now in her thirties, Spivey is often asked about a transition into Ironman competition.

For the time being, though, the immediate goal is to secure that maiden WTCS race win and have a tilt at the world title, hoping to prove those Olympic selectors wrong. A place on the US team at Paris 2024 remains the ultimate goal.

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Top image credit: Jörg Schüler/Getty Images