2019 was a standout year for several HUUB athletes most particularly Jessica Learmonth (GBR) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR), who not only finished 2nd and 3rd in the WTS ranking but were also 1-2 at the Olympic test event in Tokyo.
Both Henri Schoeman (RSA) and Jonny Brownlee (GBR) claimed podiums across the WTS and Superleague. Meanwhile, on the long-distance circuit, Alistair Brownlee (GBR) debuted in Kona, and the Norwegian pair of Kristian Blummenfelt and Gustav Iden dominated the 70.3 scene with a new World Record and a World Championship title. Jetze Plat (NED) also continued his phenomenal unbeaten run in the PTWC category to set him as one of the most successful para triathletes of all time.
For short course racing, the Olympics will undoubtedly be the highlight of the year with many HUUB athletes taking the trip over to Tokyo. The qualification period for the Olympic games finishes in May 2020 after Yokohama WTS meaning it is still all to play for in terms of qualification. The first three WTS races, Abu Dhabi, Bermuda and Yokohama, will be pivotal for those seeking selection so we can expect some intense racing in the early part of the year.
Tokyo will be the first time that the mixed relay will feature; this complicates selection for National Governing Bodies who will have to select their relay team from those racing the individual event. Some nations will opt to field a team focused around the super sprint format for the relay, whereas others will back those athletes racing over the Olympic distance and will hope they can double up with the relay.
HUUB athletes are set to shine in the Paralympic games with hopes lying on Jetze Plat to defend his title. George Peasgood (GBR), Jade Jones-Hall (GBR) and Joe Townsend (GBR) will also be in with a shot of a medal.
Although the Olympics will be the key focus for many athletes, the World Triathlon Series will also be of great importance. All athletes concentrating on Tokyo will need a ‘typical’ season to prepare for the games. There is a chance we might see some athletes drop away from racing after the Olympics, but the draw of a World title will still be enough to keep the racing exciting. In the Olympic downtime, athletes will also look to other formats of racing such as the Superleague and non-drafting racing. The Superleague is yet to announce all of its locations for 2020, but we can expect to see high octane racing towards the end of the season.
The long course scene will follow the same script as in previous years, but that doesn’t make it any less exciting. The three ‘big’ races - Kona IRONMAN World Championships, 70.3 IRONMAN World Championships, and Challenges The Championship will be the main aims for many long-distance athletes, alongside Continental Championships and other iconic races such as Roth and Norseman.
After the Olympic games, we will see some ITU athletes swapping their road bikes for time trial bikes and tackling half and full distance races. We know for sure that two of the most prolific ITU athletes of all time have already given the nod to Kona in 2020 after their attempt at qualifying for the Olympic Games. Alistair Brownlee and Javier Gomez (ESP) have already booked their slots for Kona after winning Western Australia IM and Malaysia IM late in 2019. The pair will have a tough ask to try and pull off a never seen before double, and some think the task is nye on impossible with such vast differences needed in training for both events.
Daniela Ryf (SUI) will be keen to take back her crown after a below-par performance in 2019, and the men’s race will arguably be the most competitive yet. The 70.3 World Championships will also feature in many athletes’ calendars as it proves to be the perfect middle-ground for ITU athletes wanting to test their feet at long-distance racing, as we saw in Nice 2019 with a win by Gustav Iden.