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Posted: September 14, 2016:  

Triathlon: Stellar Team of American Amateur Triathletes Set to Compete for World Titles This Week

COZUMEL, Mexico -- Nearly 500 Americans will swim, bike and run for world titles and championship medals this Thursday and Sunday at the 2016 ITU Age-Group Sprint and Standard Triathlon World Championships, held as part of the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Cozumel.

Ellen Hart won world titles in sprint and standard-distance triathlon last year and is back to defend those titles. (Rich Cruse/

USA Triathlon's Team USA program is comprised of amateur athletes who represent the United States at each ITU world championship event. The athletes racing in the 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike, 10-kilometer run Standard Triathlon Worlds qualified for the team with top-18 finishes in their respective age groups at the 2015 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 750m swim, 20k bike, 5k run Sprint Worlds will be contested in a draft-legal format for the first time, and athletes qualified either with a top-eight finish in Milwaukee or a top-10 finish at the first USA Triathlon Draft-Legal Qualifier. The Americans represent 45 states and Washington, D.C., and range in age from 16 to 86 years old.

Fifty-six athletes are competing in more than one race during the week in Cozumel, including Kirsten Sass (35-39, McKenzie, Tenn.) and Ellen Hart (55-59, Denver, Colo.), who won world titles at both distances last year and are back to defend both titles. Sass and Hart are among seven returning champions set to race in Sprint Worlds and five 2015 Standard Worlds gold medalists.

Returning defending champions in the Sprint World Championships are:

  • Kirsten Sass (35-39, McKenzie, Tenn.)
  • Ellen Hart (55-59, Denver, Colo.)
  • Paula Larsen (70-74, Delafield, Wis.)
  • Roger Little (75-79, Newtonville, Mass.)
  • James Rosborough (80-84, Houston, Texas)
  • Dorothy Sinson (85-89, Elmhurst, Ill.)
  • Winston Allen (85-89, St. Augustine, Fla.)

Laura Mathews (20-24, Memphis, Tenn.) and Philip Friedman (60-64, Erie, Pa.) return to the race course after winning silver medals in Sprint Worlds last year, while Kathy Grady (50-54, Sioux Falls, S.D.) competes in hopes of improving on her bronze medal from one year ago.

The returning Standard World Championships winners are:

  • Kirsten Sass (35-39, McKenzie, Tenn.)
  • Ellen Hart (55-59, Denver, Colo.)
  • Tony Schiller (55-59, Eden Prairie, Minn.)
  • Nancy Avitabile (65-69, Bethesda, Md.)
  • Vern Holthouse (75-79, Acampo, Calif.)

Silver medalists from last year's Standard Worlds event on the start list for Sunday are Little, Adrian Mackay (50-54, New York, N.Y.), Bruce Pickering (55-59, Carmel, Ind.), Douglas Hill (60-64, Tacoma, Wash.) and Elizabeth Brackett (75-79, Chicago, Ill.). Returning bronze medalists at the standard Olympic-distance are Alexandra Schwein (18-19, Ellsworth, Mich.), Steph Popelar (45-49, Parker, Colo.) and Kathryn Wiberg (65-69, West Boylston, Mass.).

Last year in Chicago, Team USA raced to 87 world championship medals between the sprint and standard triathlon events, with 32 gold, 30 silver and 25 bronze medals won on home soil.

The ITU Age-Group Sprint and Standard Triathlon World Championships are part of the five-day ITU World Triathlon Grand Final and World Championships happening in Cozumel this week. The week also showcases world championship events for aquathlon, elites, juniors and U23 athletes. Visit for full coverage of each race.

Complete start lists are available at, and more details on the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Cozumel are available at

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 races and connects with nearly 500,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

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