|Credentials||One gold (2008) and one silver (2007) in world championships; No. 1 in World Cup rankings|
|Credentials||One silver (2004) at Olympics; No. 2 in World Cup rankings|
|Credentials||One gold (2000) at Olympics; No. 6 in World Cup rankings|
ON A ROLL
Gomez is the reigning world champion and has been unbeatable this season. Hailed by many as the "Tiger Woods of triathlon," he will be the man to beat in Beijing. His only weakness is that he doesn't have a strong finishing kick in the run. But he is usually so far ahead of his competitors he has no need to sprint.
ON A SLIDE
American Hunter Kemper has been to three Olympics and was ranked No. 1 in World Cup standings two years ago. But he has suffered several injuries this past year and has spent considerable time on the sidelines.
UNDER THE RADAR
Australian Brad Kahlefeldt has never won an Olympic or world title. In fact, he has never competed at an Olympics. But he has won two bronze medals (2005, 2007) at world championships, and has finished second three times in World Cup competition this season. He is ranked seventh in the world. He is recovering from an injury but, if he is healthy, he could be a major factor in the race in Beijing.
Colin Jenkins and Paul Tichelaar will join Whitfield in Beijing. Whitfield qualified for the team based on his race results, while Triathlon Canada nominated the other two. Jenkins was selected over high-ranked teammates Brent McMahon and Kyle Jones because he is strong in the swim and bike disciplines, and is willing to function as a "domestique" (a rider whose main job is to help the team leader). Jenkins will do everything possible to help Whitfield win a medal. This team concept is becoming more common in the sport. Tichelaar, who is expected to be a medal threat the 2012 Olympics, could finish in the top six in Beijing.
CBC analyst Barrie Shepley predicts that about ten athletes, including the three Canadians, will emerge from the water first. In the cycling segment, the strongest competitors will jostle for position with Jenkins doing his best to ensure Whitfield is not left behind. (Jenkins might head to the front and set a torrid pace, tiring out other competitors, and he might allow Whitfield to ride directly behind him and benefit from the slipstream.)
A dozen or so athletes will be in a pack early in the run but many will drop off as the pace increases. Shepley predicts some of the "ugliest, meanest running" imaginable around the seven-kilometre mark. A few kilometres later, Gomez will run away from the pack, leaving Whitfield and others to battle for the remaining spots. If Gomez can't break away, four or five competitors will duke it out for first. Whitfield and Docherty are expected to be in the mix at that point.