The 2023 World Triathlon Championship Series came to a remarkable climax on 23-24 September in Pontevedra, north west Spain. With the men’s U23 and Elites on the Saturday, both women’s races on the Sunday, there was non-stop action and stories on and off the blue carpet and entertainment you couldn’t take your eyes off.
Dorian Coninx and Beth Potter won the world titles in the best possible fashion – by taking the tape in the pressure cooker of the Championship Finals, but beyond the podiums there were talking points aplenty as the prospects of Cassandre Beaugrand, Alex Yee, Hayden Wilde, Vasco Vilaca and Pierre Le Corre’s title challenges all ebbed and flowed in and out of possibility. You can watch all the World Championship action, including Para and Age Group, on TriathlonLive.tv, but for now, here are five Pontevedra talking points.
Run splits to blow the mind
Dorian Coninx won the title with an electrifying 10km time of 29m46s, Beth Potter clocking 33m26s. The fastest of all the women’s run times over the two races came from Mexico’s Anahi Alvarez Corral, however, with the 15th-place finisher in the U23 race putting together an astonishing 33m18 run. Hayden Wilde’s 29m57s final segment may have been 13s slower than the fastest man, Tim Hellwig, but it included a 15s penalty for that hat drop. What could have been.
Once all the athletes had all cleared the swim course, the TV cameras homed in on a golden number two swim hat sitting on the pontoon. It was suddenly clear that Hayden Wilde would face 15 seconds in the penalty box on the run that would put his world title chances in huge jeopardy. What only became clear in the race post-mortem were the calculations swirling round in Wilde’s head at the time. The kiwi realised that going back for the hat would have made dropping Yee out of T1 near impossible. As it was, Wilde’s superb first few kilometres in the saddle created a situation that saw his title rival drop to over two minutes back by the end of the 40km and meant he could still nearly grab a last-ditch title even after those 15 seconds that felt like a lifetime.
Klamer heading to 4th Olympic Games
In February, Rachel Klamer wasn’t sure if she would ever be able to run again. Facing injuries, illness and a lack of race form, there was, she admitted ahead of the Karlovy Vary World Cup, a very real prospect of retirement. Fast forward to Pontevedra via a brilliant battle with Gwen Jorgensen in the Czech Republic, and Klamer is on her way to a fourth Olympic Games in Paris 2024, her 5th-place finish in the Championship Finals enough to gain automatic qualification and begin to tailor preparations for the big one just under a year out.
German triathlon continues to soar
If there was any doubt, the future of German triathlon continues to shine brightly after Simon Henseleit and Selina Klamt became the 2023 men’s and women’s U23 World Champions with the kind of assured calm over the final stages that we have come to expect from the nation’s stars. Add in the auto Olympic qualification-winning results of Lisa Tertsch and Lasse Luhrs to join Laura Lindemann, Nina Eim and Tim Hellwig already confirmed, and the squad’s Paris prospects have started to look very bright indeed for individual and Mixed Relay medals alike.
Waugh gives GB extra thought
Until the final lap of that decisive 10km run, Britain’s Kate Waugh matched Beth Potter stroke for stroke, pedal for pedal and step for step on Sunday. The pair had to work hard together to bridge to the leaders on bike lap one, without which things could have looked very different very quickly for Potter’s prospects. The way that she was able to attack the 10km run off the back of that ride then further proved that last year’s U23 world champion Waugh really is a big race player. Those are exactly the kind of bonding moments that a successful team can be built upon, and there may well be a new name at the top of the GB selectors’ candidates to join Potter on the Paris 2024 team sheet.