As Iowa floods recede, final triathlon qualifier still planned

Updated: June 18, 2008, 7:55 PM ET
Associated Press

The final Olympic qualifying race for U.S. triathletes is going ahead as scheduled this weekend in Iowa after several days of flood-related uncertainty.

The Hy-Vee ITU Triathlon World Cup, which serves as the last Olympic qualifier for Americans, is set for Sunday in West Des Moines, Iowa. It was originally scheduled for Des Moines but was moved because of flooding.

There was concern that the event's swimming leg might not take place, but USA Triathlon said Wednesday that flood waters and water bacteria levels had dropped to acceptable levels, and the swim is set for Blue Heron Lake in West Des Moines' Raccoon River Park.

"Safety of the athletes has always been our No. 1 priority. Every day that the lake levels dropped and the sun stayed out, we were more optimistic," said Randy Edeker, the event's co-chair.

Three men and three women can compete for the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics in triathlon, which involves swimming, biking and running. Jarrod Shoemaker, Matt Reed, Laura Bennett and Julie Swail Ertel have already qualified.

That leaves Hunter Kemper and Andy Potts -- both of whom raced at the 2004 Games -- among the men fighting for one remaining spot. That spot will be determined based on the athletes' performances in the three qualifying races.

Kemper and Potts can each qualify for Beijing by finishing as the top American in Sunday's event -- or by finishing as the No. 2 American but ahead of the other.

Doug Friman and Brian Fleischmann can also qualify by finishing as the top American, but only if neither Kemper nor Potts is second. If neither Friman nor Fleischmann is the top American, the Olympic spot essentially comes down to a head-to-head race between Kemper and Potts.

The final women's spot will go to either Sarah Haskins or Sarah Groff. If Groff finishes as the top American, she will earn the Olympic bid. If not, the spot will go to Haskins.

USA Triathlon said if weather conditions change before Sunday's race, officials are considering a contingency plan in which the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis on July 12 could serve as the final qualifying event.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press