June 16 (Reuters) - The United States will look to Kevin McDowell and Morgan Pearson to end an Olympic podium shutout in the triathlon after USA Triathlon named its lineup for the Tokyo Games on Wednesday.
McDowell and Pearson will be joined in Tokyo by three women, Summer Rappaport, Taylor Knibb and former world champion Katie Zaferesthe, the only team member who also took part in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“We have multiple athletes capable of podium performances in the individual events in Tokyo,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO in a statement.
“We will also see the triathlon mixed relay — an action-packed race that brings a team atmosphere to what is typically an individual sport — make its long-awaited Olympic debut.
“For all of these reasons, I believe we are going to witness the most unique and inspiring Games in history.”
Despite having invented the sport, the U.S. has never enjoyed much in the way of Olympic success.
No U.S. man has stood on the Olympic podium while the women have just two medals from five Games, a bronze from Susan Williams at the 2004 Athens Olympics before Gwen Jorgensen struck gold in 2016 in Rio.
The U.S. expects to contend for medals in all three events, men’s, women’s and mixed-relay which will make its debut in Tokyo.
Knibb becomes the United States’ youngest ever triathlete after the 23-year-old secured a surprise automatic qualification in emphatic style by winning May’s Yokohama world series event.
Pearson, who had never before produced a top-10 finish in any World Triathlon Championship Series event, had two this year to secure his spot.
The 27-year-old former lifeguard took bronze in Yokohama on May 15 and silver in Leeds on June 6, becoming the first U.S. man to earn multiple World Triathlon Championship Series medals. (Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)