How the Paris Olympic Triathlon New Flag races look with one month to go

26 April, 2024 | español

How the Paris Olympic Triathlon New Flag races look with one month to go

In one month, the race will be over. The Olympic qualification window will close on 27 May 2024 and the outcome of all the striving, battling and dreaming will be clear. For almost two years, the best triathletes in the world have pushed themselves to the limit in pursuit of a slot at this summer’s Paris Olympic Games. Now, as we enter the final weeks, everything will be on the line.

One area of particular contention will be the New Flag places and the races to secure these slots will be among the most intense of the coming weeks.

One Paris New Flag place per gender is granted to each of the five Continental Confederations. To earn one of the coveted spots, an athlete must be the best-ranked athlete in the world rankings from a country without a qualifier of the same gender. They must also be within the top-180 of the world rankings.

Being governed by the world rankings, the New Flag races can be impacted by a range of events and the status quo is always shifting. As we enter the final month, then, the incumbents will be nervously looking over their shoulders as their rivals chase them down.

Read on to see the latest in the New Flag races and find out who might just make it to Paris.


Vicky Van Der Merwe (RSA) could hardly have made a more perfect start to her season. In addition to a hat-trick of wins at the Africa Cup events in Swakopmund, Maselspoort and Nelson Mandela Bay, she won the African Games title and the African Championships. Impressively, she has remained undefeated in 2024, with all of her victories coming in her home continent. As a result Van Der Merwe now stands in 40th place in the rankings.

Moreover, she has claimed provisional selection should South Africa earn the women’s African New Flag. Van Der Merwe’s next race will be the Huatulco World Cup. Given her form, she will back herself to extend her current lead.

While no domestic rivals are technically able to knock Van Der Merwe out from her national selection, another could overtake her in the New Flag race. To that end, Amber Schlebusch (RSA) will need to be watched. Schlebusch stands in 80th in the world rankings and is over 600 points behind Van Der Merwe. She will also be in Huatulco however even a win in Mexico would not close the gap. As such, Schlebusch will need to string together several fantastic results to snatch the New Flag slot away from Van Der Merwe.

Beyond Van Der Merwe’s domestic rivals, she will also need to keep an eye on contenders like Kahina Mebarki (ALG, 114th in the world). Overall, though, Van Der Merwe is in an enviable position when it comes to the New Flag races.

On the men’s side, Jean Gael Laurent L`Entete (MRI) has one hand on the New Flag berth. His 5th place finish at the African Championships in Hurghada saw him rocket twenty-eight places up the world rankings into 94th in the world. Looking ahead to his coming events, L`Entete will be racing at the Asia Cup in Pokhara, Nepal, this weekend as he seeks to gain further points before the end of the Olympic qualification window.

However, Siefeldeen Ismail (EGY) is close behind in 112th and has started the season promisingly. He will also be in Pokhara and could eat into L`Entete’s lead with a high finish. In addition, Seifeddine Selmi (TUN) is ranked 125th and is another that could yet sneak onto the Olympic start list.

While L`Entete has the upper hand, the African men’s New Flag race is by no means an open and shut case.


Romina Biagioli (ARG) is edging closer to claiming the Americas New Flag berth for a second straight Games. She is ranked 53rd in the world and has a healthy lead over her nearest challengers, Leslie Amat Alvarez of Cuba (ranked 93rd) and Raquel Solis Guerrero of Costa Rica (ranked 94th).

A bronze medal at the Vina del Mar Americas Cup has helped to consolidate Biagioli’s lead in the New Flag standings. Next month, she will also tackle the Huatulco World Cup in May where she will hope for a similar performance to her 13th place at the Brasilia World Cup from last season.

When it comes to the men’s Americas New Flag slot, Matthew Wright (BAR) is the man to beat. The 2023 Americas champion over the sprint distance holds a world ranking of 57th and his silver medal on home turf at the Americas Cup in Barbados in March may yet prove decisive.

At the end of the Olympic qualification window, Wright will be taking on WTCS Cagliari. That in itself will be a big moment. Wright’s last WTCS start was in 2018 and he made two prior appearances in 2015. When he toes the start line in Cagliari, he will thus make his fourth start and long-awaited return to the WTCS. As the highest level of the sport, WTCS Cagliari will be worth plenty of points and a good result there will likely tip the New Flag scales definitively in Wright’s favour.

Nevertheless, chasers such as Tyler Smith of Bermuda (90th) and Gabriel Terán Carvajal of Ecuador (102nd) cannot be ruled out. Smith, for example, will be racing at the Chengdu World Cup and could rise through the rankings in a very short space of time.


If we turn back the clock to the start of the season, Ekaterina Shabalina (KAZ) seemed the presumptive favourite to take the Asian women’s New Flag place. She won the Asian sprint distance title at the end of 2023 to cap a season of multiple Continental Cup victories and, even today, she leads the New Flag race with a world ranking of 55th.

However, one thing has changed. Bailee Brown (HKG) is coming.

Throughout 2024, Brown has chipped away at Shabalina’s lead and now stands in 67th in the world rankings. Less than 200 points separate the two women and the race could turn on its head at any moment.

Shabalina will next race at the Samarkand World Cup where she will bank on registering a lot of points. Meanwhile, Brown will take on the Asia Cup in Taizhou a week earlier. Should Brown make the podium in Taizhou, she could amplify the pressure on Shabalina and make the rest of the qualification period too close to call.

Brown’s compatriot Jason Tai Long Ng (HKG) also leads the Asian men’s New Flag race. Over the past year, he has been locked in an epic battle with Ayan Beisenbayev (KAZ), who coincidentally is a teammate of Shabalina.

A series of classy performances, including a 4th place finish at the Asian Championships over the sprint distance, have lifted Ng to 37th in the world. At this moment, he is the highest ranked individual of any athlete hunting New Flag qualification.

However, as has been the case for a long time now, Beisenbayev is right with Ng. Having led the New Flag race earlier in the year, Beisenbayev is now on the outside looking in from 44th in the world rankings.

Beisenbayev will compete at the Chengdu World Cup before turning his attention to the World Cup in Samarkand. In between the two races, Ng will venture to Taizhou for the Asia Cup event. On paper, the extra race may hand Beisenbayev the advantage. The Olympic contest between Hong Kong and Kazakhstan, though, will likely rage for the entirety of the next month.


The situation is similarly tight in the European race. Sinem Francisca Tous Servera (TUR) has assumed the lead in the New Flag standings after moving up to 58th in the world rankings. Last month, she overtook Ivana Kuriackova (SVK) who is currently ranked 62nd. Less than 100 points split the two women.

Whereas Tous will start at the Chengdu World Cup this weekend, Kuriackova has plumped for the Americas Cup and South American Championships in La Guaira. 

Kuriackova’s compatriot, Zuzuna Michalickova (SVK) is also a contender. Michalickova’s recent sparkling World Cup form – she has logged five top-10 finishes since August – has seen her soar to 65th in the world rankings. The question is, how much higher can she go? She has another chance to log a World Cup top-10 in Chengdu. Should she manage to score one, she could find herself in pole position to take the New Flag slot.

Looking over the men’s side, Felix Duchampt (ROU) has maintained his advantage in the New Flag race. He has a world ranking of 59th. At the Chengdu World Cup, he will have the chance to put himself out of reach.

One name he will have to watch, though, is James Edgar (IRL). Now ranked 77th, Edgar is already a race winner in 2024 after winning the Americas Cup in La Habana. Furthermore he will race in Chengdu. For his part, Duchampt won the Americas Cup in La Guaira at the start of the year. While the Romanian athlete has the upper hand, it remains to see what Edgar can muster in the next four weeks.


The Oceania women’s New Flag is the most clear-cut situation as things stand. Manami Iijima (GUM) is ranked 173rd and has no regional rivals for the Olympic slot. Rather than racing another individual from her region, her battle will be against the rankings themselves. So long as IIjima remains in the top-180 in the world, the slot will be hers, and she will be hoping to consolidate that position at the Pokhara Asia Cup this weekend.

Meanwhile, there are no eligible men from Oceania at this time. Consequently, the New Flag slot will roll down to the next eligible athlete in the Olympic Qualification rankings. Here, Gaspar Riveros (CHI, 83rd) is the man to beat.

Leading the pursuit are Gregor Payet (LUX, 84th), Badr Siwane (MAR, 88th) and Panagiotis Bitados (GRE, 91st). Tantalisingly, Riveros, Payet and Siwane will all be racing in Chengdu while Bitados will keep his powder dry until the Samarkand World Cup. Representatives from three different continents could therefore take the Oceanian men’s New Flag slot and a tense finish to the qualification window will be in store.

Several of the New Flag races will thus reach fever pitch over the coming weeks. Stay up to date with all the upcoming action on TriathlonLive and across World Triathlon social channels.


olympics paris 2024 new flag

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