2021 Short Course Season Review
As we look towards a hopeful 2022 triathlon season it gives a great opportunity to look back on an eventful 2021. For man, Covid-19 still had its impacts, however, there was still plenty to celebrate, especially for many of our HUUB athletes.
World Triathlon Series
The 2021 WTS season finally got underway in Yokohama, and as expected the racing was as competitive as ever. In the men’s race HUUB had 3 athletes in the top 5. Jelle Geens (BEL) showed that he was one to be reckoned with on the run, whilst Alex Yee (GBR) began to stake his claim on that second Olympic spot for Team GB. Henri Schoeman (RSA) demonstrated that he was ready to equal or better his Olympic bronze from Rio as he finished 5th, just ahead of World Champion at the time Vincent Luis (FRA).
Leeds came up next, as qualification for the Olympics stepped up a notch. A debut and dominant win for Yee saw him instantly become a favourite for the second GB spot and perhaps even favourite for the Olympic title. However, as there are moments of success in sport, there are also moments of trials and tribulations. HUUB’s Alistair Brownlee (GBR), the most successful Olympic triathlete in history had his hopes of a third consecutive Olympic title cut short with an ill-timed ankle injury which ended to his hopes of qualification. He graciously bowed out of his short distance career and finished the run to a standing ovation. In the women’s race, Jess Learmonth (GBR) put behind her injury woes from earlier in the year and reaffirmed her threat on the circuit. She commanded the breakaway group and finished 2nd, a clear sign she was ready for the summer games.
The 2020 Olympic Games finally came around after its one-year delay. For many athletes, this race had been on their radars for 5 years. For some, it proved one year to late and for others, it completely changed their Olympic story.
Both races delivered and it was HUUB’s Jessica Learmonth (GBR) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (GBR) who set alight the women’s race. Taylor-Brown added drama to the race with a puncture 2km out from T2, loosing 22 seconds going onto the run, however, this didn’t phase her and she ran through to claim a silver medal in her debut Olympic Games. Learmonth in her first Olympic Games, finished 9th and Laura Lindemann (GER) just edging her in 8th position.
The men’s race was just as enthralling, with HUUB’s Jonny Brownlee in typical fashion pushing the pace early in the swim and bike to try force a break. However, the chase pack had too much fire power with Kristian Blummenfelt (NOR) driving the chase pack. This benefitted Alex Yee (GBR), who along with the majority of the field found himself at the front of the race. Yee, emboldened by his performance in Leeds set the pace on the run to eventually force a trio along with Blummenfelt and Hayden Wilde (NZL), but it was the Norwegian who proved the strongest athlete on the day and went on the claim the title, with Yee claiming and incredible silver medal. Brownlee would finish in 5th place, leaving his hunt for a third Olympic medal to the relay event.
The relay race proved to be a momentous occasion for the Triathlon World as it captivated a global audience, and it was the British and HUUB quartet of Learmonth, Brownlee, Taylor-Brown and Yee who put in a faultless performance to claim the title. In the relay event, the lead often changes hands, however, a win for Team GB never looked in doubt. It gave Yee and Taylor-Brown a second medal of the games, Learmonth a well-deserved first Olympic medal, and for Brownlee his third Olympic medal, completing the set of medals after Bronze in London and Silver in Rio.
George Peasgood (GBR) gave us more HUUB success as he showed his prowess in not only one but two sports. The long stranding HUUB ambassador put in the performance of his life to clinch Silver medal in the PTS5 category in Triathlon, then just two days later added a Bronze medal in the men’s C4 Road Time Trial event. Jetze Plat (NED) also delivered a double, with Gold in the PTWC followed up by a Gold in the H4 Road Time Trial event. Plat continued his dominance in Wheel Chair Paratriathlon as he then went on to claim another World Title in the World Championships in Abu Ahabi later in the year. He remains unbeaten since 2015!
World Triathlon Series Grand Final
An Olympic year always presents a different look to the season with athletes missing events in the lead up to the Games to perfect their preparation. Equally the physical, and perhaps more importantly, the mental toll the Games can have on an athlete often means we see a depleted field in other competitions. It was set to be a head to head between Yee and Blummenfelt for the World Title, and although Yee produced the quickest run split, a break in the field, with the Norwegian the right side of the split meant that Blummenfelt claimed both the Olympic title and the World title, with Yee finishing the year with 3rd in the WTS rankings. An incredible year for the HUUB athlete.
Taylor-Brown and Learmonth decided to sit out of the Grand Final, however, an 8th place finish for Lindemann, cemented her 8th place finish in the WTS rankings. Sian Rainsley (GBR) added another solid top 15 performance to impress in her debut WTS season, adding yet another British female to long list of athletes to watch out for in 2022.
In other short course racing we had a post-Olympic showcase put on by the guys at Superleague, we were treated to events in London, Munich, Jersey and Malibu where the World’s best triathletes were selected to race under one of five teams, ‘The Sharks’, ‘The Rhinos’, ‘The Eagles’, ‘The Scorpions’, and finally ‘The Cheetahs’. Not only was there a stellar line up of athletes but Team managers featured some of the legends from the sport. It was Triathlon like we have never seen it before.
Over four gruelling rounds, it was HUUB’S Olympic medallists that stole the show. Yee was claimed 2021 STL Champion with Jonny Brownlee in 3rd place. Whilst Taylor-Brown narrowly edged Learmonth in the final round to claim the title. Both Champions took home prize money in excess of $120,000 over the four races to mark an end to an incredibly successful year.