Dutch triathlete and World Triathlon Leeds winner Maya Kingma has spoken out about the new World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) race format that’s due to premier in Montreal this weekend.
In a post on her Instagram page she said: “As the current leader of the WTCS, I am receiving many questions as to why I’m not racing in Montreal. This has nothing to do with resting, but everything to do with the new ‘supersprint/eliminator’ format.”
The championship race in Montreal this weekend will play out in a completely new ‘eliminator’ format that has never been seen before in the WTCS, but has many similarities to Super League Triathlon racing.
Rather than being a standard sprint or Olympic-distance race as usual, athletes will have to compete in two qualification races, with the 10 best from each wave going through to the final. The next 10 best from each wave will then compete in a repechage, with the best five progressing to the final.
The following day, there will be three rounds of the final. Thirty triathletes will start the first final, with the bottom 10 dropping out. In the next wave, another 10 will drop out, and then we’ll be left with 10 athletes to compete for honours in the final race. Each race takes place over a supersprint course (300m swim, 7.2km bike, 2km run).
Writing about the format, Kingma said: “In my opinion, this is a totally different discipline within triathlon, much as Olympic-distance racing is to a full distance Ironman. Therefore, it has no place within our World Championship series.
“And yes, I will race @superleaguetriathlon which is fun and a great event on its own. An exciting format where WTCS (and other triathlon) heroes are showcased around the world. I’ve trained for Olympic-distances for 11 years. So, why is this supersprint a different discipline? A few key points:
- Obviously, the distance and time
- The amount of racing in a weekend: up to five supersprints. So multiple all-out 1.5km run sprints is not something everybody is capable of
- The tactics: a supersprint, is just that, a sprint, so all out and a lot less tactical
- More emphasis on running: the transition is a lot of running as well, which adds up in such a short event
- Less time to cope with bad luck: getting held up in the swim, or someone crashing in front of you, there is just no time to make that up
- The unfairness of not racing the entire field in the series: imagine the difference between two heats if in the one heat you have a strong swimmer as Jess Learmonth, and a strong runner as Beth Potter in the other, how can you compare these results?
“In short, this format should not have been forced upon us by including it in the WTCS and should be a stand-alone event or series. I am one of the few who has the choice to not race in Montreal and not totally throw away my WTCS ranking, even though I’m taking a risk because my 11th place in the Olympics isn’t ideal.”
Kingma also hinted that she’s not alone in her opinion about this new format and said “it’s difficult to be heard”. American athlete Taylor Spivey replied in the comments saying, “I appreciate you taking a stand for us”, while Britain’s Non Stanford replied with a series of hands up and clapping emojis.
Continuing in the comments, Kingma said: “One final note – what problem is this new format actually trying to solve? There are a lot of ways to improve current Olympic-distance races: better coverage, show tactics in the different groups, more interesting (bike) courses and better background stories.
“Personally, I think there are way more enthusiastic fans to bring to the sport by looking for a connection to the longer distances, since we are the ultimate endurance sport.”
Speaking earlier this year about the new format, World Triathlon President Marisol Casado said: “As part of our mission to innovate and entertain, World Triathlon is constantly exploring different models for competition.
“The huge success of the Mixed Relay will see it make its Olympic debut in Tokyo, and this new format is set to bring another fresh and exciting new element to the sport’s most prestigious events: The World Triathlon Championship Series.”
World Triathlon Montreal starts tomorrow (Friday 13 August) with the qualification and repechage waves for both men and women. The finals will then take place on Saturday 14 August.
Top image credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images