Tom Bishop’s round the world journey in the hunt for an Olympic spot

Photo: Ryan Bowd

Heading into this weekend’s World Triathlon Championship Series Leeds event, Great Britain is still after a third men’s Olympic spot. The country has secured two men’s spots thanks to Mixed Team Relay qualification, but to qualify a third athlete they need to have three men in the top-30 of the Olympic Qualification Ranking. Right now Jonathan Brownlee, who has been selected to represent Great Britain at the Olympics in Tokyo, sits ninth in the rankings, while Alex Yee is 21st. We reported last week that Yee and two-time Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee would likely face off for the second British spot in Tokyo this weekend in Leeds, but if Tom Bishop could have a couple of big performances over the next few weekends, he could conceivably add a third athlete to the top-30, which would allow the Brits to send three men to Tokyo. Bishop is currently ranked 35th in World Triathlon’s Olympic Qualification Ranking.

There’s a chance that if he did manage to earn Great Britain that third spot, Bishop wouldn’t be the man to go to Tokyo, though. British Triathlon has made it clear that Alistair Brownlee is in the running for a spot on the team. The elder Brownlee brother is coming off an injury, though, which will make the decision that much more difficult, hence the showdown with Yee this weekend. Alistair Brownlee was in the World Triathlon Cup Arzachena last weekend, where it appeared that he was doing his best to help Bishop in the race, riding with him before pulling out early in the run. Bishop would eventually finish 40th.

It’s no wonder that Bishop might be struggling at this point – the Arzachena race is renowned as one of the toughest on the World Triathlon circuit, and he’s in the midst of a five-race-on-five-continents-in-five-weeks journey as he tries to earn a spot for Tokyo. The journey began in Yokohama, Japan, where he took 22nd. He didn’t finish the race in Lisbon, Portugal before heading off to Italy. This weekend he’ll be in Leeds, then the following weekend he’ll be in Hualtuco, Mexico, for a final world cup race.

“The good news is that I’m in great shape and confident that that qualifying spot is well within my grasp,” he said before embarking on the five week race-fest. “Ideally I’d be racing a little less, but with bad luck and crashes and an injury in my last season, I dropped ranking points, so the chase is on! It’s going to be an exciting few weeks!”

Bishop was a reserve for the British Olympic team in Rio in 2016, so he would no-doubt dearly love to make it to the Games in Tokyo this year.