USA Triathlon has opened registration, powered by ACTIVE, for the 2020 USA Triathlon Youth & Junior Nationals, which return to West Chester, Ohio, from Aug. 1-2. The event will be held at Voice of America Park for the ninth consecutive year.
Individual races for youth elite, junior elite and youth age group triathletes, as well as a youth and junior elite mixed relay event, make for an action-packed weekend. In 2020, Youth & Junior Nationals will see several changes to align with the American Development Model (ADM), a concerted effort between the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and its sport National Governing Bodies to apply long-term athlete development principles in a way that resonates with the culture of sport in the United States.
American Development Model (ADM) Adjustments - The ADM aims to create early positive experiences for youth athletes across all sports by promoting sustained sport participation. Emphasis is placed on developmentally appropriate activities, including foundational skill development, coordination and motor control.
“The ADM’s research-driven approach enables youth athletes to build healthy relationships with sport for the long-term,” said Meg Duncan, Youth Program Manager at USA Triathlon. “By putting these concepts into action, USA Triathlon hopes to strengthen our youth pipeline while equipping athletes with valuable mental and physical skills that will benefit them for life.”
ADM research supports universal access and opportunity for all athletes; encourages multi-sport participation versus early specialization; and promotes the establishment of a fun, challenging and engaging atmosphere through quality coaching at all levels. Research shows that youth athletes commonly drop out of sport around age 12 — but beginning at age 13-14, their bodies are better able to handle heavier workloads, specialization efforts and more advanced training concepts. The ADM framework gradually builds upon itself to maintain positive environments for youth athletes while avoiding burnout.
In 2020, the word “Championships” will be removed from the overall event name (Youth & Junior Nationals) in an effort to emphasize participation and personal goal setting over competition for younger age groups.
The youth age group race, which was previously limited to ages 7-15, is now open to athletes up to age 18. Ages 7-10 will complete a 100-meter swim, 5-kilometer bike and 1-kilometer run; 11- to 12-year-olds will complete a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run; and 13- to 18-year-olds will complete a 300m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run. A paratriathlon open division will also be held as part of the age group race, with paratriathletes ages 7-18 completing a 200m swim, 10k bike and 2k run.
As in previous years, all age group races are non-draft-legal. National champion titles will only be awarded to athletes ages 13-18, while the younger age groups will still receive placement awards. In the paratriathlon open division, the top male and female finishers overall will earn national champion titles. Additional changes to age group awards can be found on the event page at usatriathlon.org.
The youth elite and junior elite races, which feature a draft-legal format, will keep the same structure and awards as in previous years. Youth elites (ages 13-15) will cover a 375m swim, 10k bike and 2.5k run, while junior elites (ages 16-19) will cover a 750m swim, 20k bike and 5k run. All youth elite and junior elite athletes must qualify to compete by way of the 2020 USA Triathlon Youth & Junior Elite Series.
The mixed relay event, which features youth elite and junior elite athletes ages 13-19, will also maintain the same structure as in previous years. Teams are comprised of two girls and two boys, with each athlete completing a 250m swim, 5k bike and 1.2k run before tagging off to the next teammate. The mixed relay format will debut as a medal event at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
All athletes at Youth & Junior Nationals, both age group and elite, will record goal times for their races as part of the registration process. A “goal time board” will also be available at the venue for athletes to write down their goals and finishing times. As part of the ADM, this process encourages athletes to focus on advancing their personal bests versus placement relative to other athletes.
Schedule Changes - Youth age group athletes ages 13-18 will be the first to race on Saturday morning, Aug. 1, followed by the individual junior elite and youth elite races in the late morning and early afternoon. On Sunday, Aug. 2, youth age group athletes ages 7-12 and paratriathletes ages 7-18 will race first, followed by the elite mixed relay event. These changes ensure that the youngest age group athletes are racing in cooler conditions. The complete schedule is available at usatriathlon.org.
Removal of High School National Championships Starting in 2021 - The final USA Triathlon High School National Championships will be held April 3, 2020, in Tempe, Arizona, in conjunction with the USA Triathlon Collegiate Club National Championships. Starting in 2021, the event will no longer be a part of USA Triathlon’s National Championships calendar. Instead, high school-aged athletes will have the option of competing at Youth & Junior Nationals in either the age group race or, if they qualify, the draft-legal youth elite or junior elite divisions.
For more information and to register for 2020 Youth & Junior Nationals, visit the event page at usatriathlon.org. To learn more about the Athlete Development Model (ADM), click here.
About USA Triathlon - USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors – as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation – USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).