Ben Kanute on missing Olympics: “This part of sports hurts, it’s a huge disappointment”

(Photo: Tommy Zaferes, World Triathlon)

Earlier this week, America’s Ben Kanute shared his thoughts during the final wait for his possible selection to the USA Triathlon Olympic team, but now – only a few days later – he has to share the disappointing news: he will not be in Tokyo. “Coming up short on big goals is never easy. I will not be going to a second Olympic Games this year.”

America will be going off to Tokyo with five athletes: Katie Zaferes, Summer Rappaport, Taylor Knibb, Morgan Pearson and Kevin McDowell. Just like – among others – Taylor Spivey, Kanute is one of the strong triathletes who didn’t make the cut. “The mission was to win a Mixed Relay medal at the Olympics,” he comments on Instagram. “An event that I am passionate about, love to race, and have had a lot of success in. I gave it my all and tried to show how much of an asset I could be. However, it wasn’t enough. That’s sport.”

USA Triathlon followed a different approach than most other federations. Only at a few pre-selected races could athletes earn automatic qualification. If they didn’t put up their best performance at the right place at the right time, they were dependent on a four-person committee that would decide which other athletes they trusted to be a strong asset for the team in Tokyo. “It feels weird because a committee has the ultimate say of your worth. It almost hurts more than coming up short in a race,” Kanute explains. “But when it comes down to it, I needed to be better to make the decision clearer.”

After spending the past five years focussing on Tokyo, Kanute will now need to process this disappointment. “This part of sport hurts, and it is a huge disappointment. It can suck you in and make you question everything. With the lows in sport come the highs. I find some peace in the decision because there is no more waiting. I am going to refocus and attack the rest of the year with just as much ferocity as if I was selected. I love this sport, and I love finding the limits of what I can do. It is why I chose to pursue the Olympics because it challenged me in so many ways.”

“This is far from the end for me. I have big goals in triathlon and life, and I am just getting started,” Kanute concludes. In six weeks time, he will be in front of the television cheering of his team: “I have nothing but respect for the other Team USA athletes. You all helped push me to be a better athlete, and I have loved representing the USA around the world with you. Morgan Pearson and Kevin McDowell congrats on making the team, it was well-earned! And congrats to the women (Katie Zaferes, Summer Rappaport, Taylor Knibb). One of the best things about our sport is the ability to fiercely compete on the racecourse, but have a respect and camaraderie off the course.”
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