Stand-out junior triathletes Maryhelen "Parker" Albright and Drew Shellenberger have been nominated to the United States' team for this year's Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires.
The pair, both 16-years-old, earned their nominations by virtue of their performances at the Triathlon American YOG qualifier in Salinas in Ecuador.
Albright was the overall champion in the women’s race, covering the 750 metres swim, 20 kilometres cycle and 5km run in 1 hour 01min 40sec.
She ran her way to the victory with a race-leading time of 18:17 in the 5km run, edging runner-up Sofia Rodriguez Moreno of Mexico by six seconds.
America's Liberty Ricca took third place with a time of 1:02:26.
The men’s race came down to the wire with the top-three finishers within eight seconds of each other.
Shellenberger made a solo breakaway on the cycle and had a 45-second gap on the rest of the field by the second transition.
He was caught on the run by Mexico’s Javier Antonio De La Peña Schott and Canada’s Brock Hoel but held on for the bronze medal.
De La Peña Schott ultimately broke the tape in 57min 05sec, followed by Hoel in 57:08 and Shellenberger in 57:13.
The US contingent had a strong showing in Salinas overall with all eight of the country’s women finishing in the top 15 and three men finishing in the top 10.
As the highest-placed finishers, Albright and Shellenberger earned the right to represent America in the third YOG triathlon competition scheduled to take place between October 6 and 18 pending the official approval of the United States Olympic Committee.
"I couldn’t be happier for Parker and Drew," Steve Kelley, USA Triathlon’s junior and under-23 programme manager, said.
"Both brought their A-games to Salinas.
"The competition across the Americas is the best we’ve ever seen, and there was no margin for error.
"Having had the opportunity to get to know Parker and Drew over the past four years through races and camps, I know they will be terrific members of Team USA.
"The Youth Olympic Games are about the future of sport and I can’t think of two better young Americans to represent our sport."
US triathletes have a history of success at the YOG with Kevin McDowell and Kelly Whitley earning silver and bronze medals respectively at the inaugural edition at Singapore 2010.
At Nanjing 2014, Stephanie Jenks raced to a silver medal.
Albright won two consecutive titles at the 2016 and 2017 USA Triathlon Youth Elite National Championships and finished the 2016 and 2017 seasons atop USA Triathlon’s youth elite national rankings.
Shellenberger won the Youth Elite National Championships title in 2017, was the runner-up at that race in 2016 and earned back-to-back wins at the 2017 and 2018 USA Triathlon High School National Championships.
He was number one in the 2017 USA Triathlon youth elite national rankings.