With reigning women’s champion Tilda Mansson and 2018 winner Csongor Lehmann flying high after World Cup golds in Tiszaujvaros last weekend, the journey from Junior world title to the top of the sport might never be easy, but it is clearly a huge first indicator down that path for the winner.
Throw in names of past champions such as Alistair Brownlee, Vincent Luis, Taylor Knibb and Nicola Spirig, and there can be no doubt that the athletes lining up in Hamburg on Thursday for a shot at this year’s prize will know just how valuable experiencing this early-career glory could be. With last year’s winners Mansson and Thomas Hansmaennel not present and Reese Vannerson the only name from the 2022 podiums returning, the door is wide open for whoever can tame this tricky city-centre course.
A 750km lake swim includes the unsettling 40m tunnel section, up into transition before the tight and technical 4-lap 20km bike and closing out with the two-lap 5km run.
Asia Champion Manami Hayashi was also crowned Japan’s national champion back in October and wears the women’s number one as the highest ranked athlete in the world standings (158th). Hong Kong’s Pauline Courret finished with the bronze in those Gamagori continental championships, Siyi Zhang and China completing the Asia delegation on the start.
The Americas top contenders could be Brazil’s 2022 Junior Continental Champion Julia Munhoz who failed to finish in Montreal but has since had some solid elite-level results in South America, while USA’s Faith Dasso makes her second Junior World Championship start after dipping in at the U23 level in Abu Dhabi.
Hungary’s top-ranked athlete Nora Romina Nadas took the silver at both the Junior European Cup in Tiszaujvaros at the weekend and May’s Junior Aquathlon World Championships, teammate and last year’s winner in Tiszy Lili Dobi and Laura Inez Papp also have huge potential here.
A strong GB contingent is spearheaded by Bethany Cook, top 10 in Montreal and solid across all three segments but short on recent big-race sharpness, teammate Isla Hedley recently crowned Junior Cross World Champion for the second time in Ibiza back in May and ready to swap the gravel for the tarmac in Hamburg.
Representing Estonia is the versatile Grete Maria Savitsch while two of Oceania’s great medal hopes will be Australians Rhianna Hepburn, Junior Europe Cup and Oceania Champion, and Emma Olson-Keating.
France’s Ilona Hadhoum has been a regular on and around international podiums as a Junior most recently in Caorle, where teammate Manon Laporte won silver in a dramatic finish with Fanni Szalai who doesn’t race, but Margareta Vrablova (SVK) could well fill those shoes, the Aquathlon Junior World Champion and elite silver medallist another youngster tipped for greatness after a string of excellent results.
The sole athlete ranked inside the world’s top 100, Australian Bradley Course takes good form with him to Hamburg, most recently including a lightning run to Oceania Cup gold against the likes of Tayler Reid and Jake Birtwhistle and a second-place European Cup finish in a field that included Richard Murray and New Zealand’s Trent Thorpe.
The 2022 Americas Continental Champion Mathis Beaulieu made a promising World Cup debut in Huatulco last month before helping Team Canada to bronze in the Americas Mixed Relay. After a DNF in Quarteira 2021 and 7th at home last year in Montreal, could it be a lucky third shot at the title this time around?
Also making his World Cup debut in Mexico was Chile’s Andree Buc, the South American Junior Champion who gets his first taste of World Championship action on Thursday. Bronze medallist last year, USA’s Reese Vannerson will be hoping to work his way up the podium this time around, compatriot Sullivan Middaugh has the kind of run power that could see him feature if in touch off the bike.
Hungary’s Marton Kropko has been amassing some key big-race experience this year including the Arena Games, a successful defence of his Aquathlon Junior World Championship title and the Olympic Esports Week in Singapore last month, Zalan Hobor arriving straight from edging a thrilling junior conti cup sprint finish in Tiszaujvaros.
Sweden’s Oscar Lilja won both the Junior Cross Triathlon and Cross Triathlon World Championships in Ibiza in May, South Africa’s Shaun Wolfaardt with the silver in Ibiza and already with two Junior Cup wins this year in Africa.
Joao Nuno Batista is the next huge talent from the Portuguese triathlon family, silver at the 2021 World Championships followed by 11th last year, but he is a regular on podiums and has a heap of experience already to draw on. Italy’s Euan De Nigro and Germany’s Tim Semmler will also be looking to rise to the occasion when they line up on Thursday.