The American was arguably the most talked about contender ahead of this year’s IMWC in Kona before finishing fourth on what was her full-distance debut.
She had booked her place in the race by virtue of her IRONMAN 70.3 Worlds win in 2022. And though she defended that crown in 2023, there’s a crucial caveat to her lining up in the IMWC in Nice next year as she explained to Bob Babbitt in his latest ‘Breakfast With Bob’ interview which is embedded below.
Another box to tick
For IRONMAN have brought back their validation criteria, whether that’s for defending, previous or 70.3 Worlds champions.
It’s not an issue for most but for those who are focussed on short course, especially in an Olympic year, it’s a significant added complication.
Reigning men’s Olympic and former IMWC Kristian Blummenfelt alluded to it in our recent interview with him and Knibb outlined what her options are – and why neither she nor Blummenfelt can just presume they’ll be given a wildcard if they don’t take gold in Paris next summer.
She explained: “The four ways I think I can validate if I’m reading the thing correctly is, one, do an Ironman. Do two 70.3s. Win gold in Paris. Or get a wildcard invitation.”
Full focus on July 31st – for now
There are 53 days between the Olympics and the women’s IMWC in Nice next year and the ‘two 70.3s’ option would have to be ticked off well before the Olympics as the cut-off date for that is June 30th whereas the IRONMAN deadline is August 19th.
Knibb continued: “At the end of the day it might be harder for me to actually get to Nice having qualified via the 70.3 Worlds. Because if I hadn’t qualified it might be easier for IRONMAN to justify an invitation.
“But with their validation rule – and they want to make sure Lucy [Charles-Barclay], Anne [Haug] and Laura [Philipp] validate as well as previous champions like Chelsea [Sodaro] and Daniela [Ryf] – it’s probably tougher, but we’ll see.
“I still have no idea what my schedule will be next year apart from July 31st [the Olympics]. One race. 8am. And then I don’t know.”
Knibb has enjoyed an incredible season again, qualifying for the Olympics, defending her 70.3 Worlds crown, winning the 70.3 PTO US Open as well as 70.3 Boulder, plus that fourth in Kona – all of which sees her at #3 in the PTO world rankings.
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