Team Wizard Triathlon Take On New Zealand’s Best
New Zealand’s top domestic series triathletes, including Team Wizard, will step up a gear when they meet the country’s finest competitors in the New Zealand and Oceania championships, held in Queenstown this weekend.
The young-guns from Team Wizard Triathlon, the country’s first domestic tri team, are fresh from outstanding results in the Air NZ Pro Series - the country’s premiere race series.
Team Wizard’s three elite male athletes, Nathan Richmond, Keiran Doe and Graham O’Grady finished first, third and fourth at Sunday’s final race at Maraetai Beach near Auckland. Fourth team member, Anna Cleaver finished a creditable fourth in the race, after returning from injury.
This result sees Nathan Richmond win the Air NZ Pro Series, with Kieran Doe second, and Graham O’Grady in fourth. Cleaver finishes eleventh in the women’s event, an excellent result considering her break from competition.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Nathan Richmond, “now it’s into hibernation for a few days and then I’ll get ready for next weekend.”
Richmond and his team-mates travel to Queenstown this weekend for the most important race of the season – the New Zealand and Oceania championships, which is also the qualifying event for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
Up against the likes of experienced triathletes Craig Watson, Cameron Brown and Fiona Docherty, Team Wizard is ready to step a gear.
23-year-old Richmond is hunting for a Commonwealth Games position, while Kieran Doe and Graham O’Grady will battle for the under-23 title. Anna Cleaver, who is a relative newcomer to the sport, hopes to continue the form that helped her win the Sydney Biathlon on March 3. She is aiming for a top six placing in the Queenstown event.
Team Wizard coach, Jack Ralston, says the team concept has been a significant factor in developing these young athletes and helping them maintain top performance throughout the season.
“Anything could happen on race day. The preparation is ideal - while other athletes train solo in the build-up to a major event, Team Wizard will benefit from working together right up until Saturday’s race,”
“Wizard Home Loans backs athletes in Australia and it’s working the same way here and in New Zealand. The team thrive on the daily contact – they train together and push each other to get better results,” he says.
Team Wizard triathlon is the first team to enter the New Zealand traithlon scene. It is backed by Wizard Home Loans, which opened in New Zealand 20 months ago and has a growing national network of branches.
Wizard Home Loans Executive Chairman, Mark Bouris, says development of young talent is an important part of its sports sponsorships.
“We back young people who have ability, but often find it tough to attract the commercial support that is important to reaching the top,” he says.