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Olympic Contenders Go Head to Head

For immediate release from Triathlon NZ

23rd January 2008

Olympic Contenders Go Head to Head in Early Season Hit Out

Two athletes chasing a place in the Triathlon at the Beijing Olympic Games will get an early season guide to form and fitness when they race each other in the next round of the Contact Energy My Sport Series in Timaru on Sunday.

Nicky Samuels and Andrea Hewitt are the two highest ranked New Zealand athletes chasing the third and final spot on the New Zealand team for Beijing and are both gearing their seasons towards peaking at Mooloolaba in late March, the final Olympic selection race. But the friends and training partners will line up against each other in Timaru this Sunday in the fourth round of the Contact Energy My Sport Series and while neither is overly concerned about the result, both admit to feeling the extra edge in Olympic year.

“The focus is very much on Mooloolaba for me but Sunday will be a good guide as to where I am in my training programme,” said world number twelve Hewitt.

“This is the first race of the season for me after spending the past 6 weeks building up my base with some big miles, including spending considerable time on the bike winning the Tour de Femme in Nelson. It is also nice to be able to race in our own series at home in front of family, friends and supporters. Nicky has been racing well and is in good form so might have the edge on Sunday but we will see. The result is almost irrelevant anyway, for me it is more about how I race and how I feel at this early stage of my schedule.”

Samuels has already picked up two impressive wins in the Contact Energy My Sport Series, including a commanding victory in Whangamata two weeks ago. But like Hewitt, the world’s 35th ranked athlete is not giving too much away ahead of Sunday.

“Sunday is another race and another opportunity to continue the hard work of recent weeks that has me building nicely for Mooloolaba. It will be important not to get carried away this early in the season knowing that the bigger prize is still 9 weeks away but I’m looking forward to racing and having some fun in what is developing into an excellent series. Andrea and I know each other pretty well so its not as if we can hide anything ahead of Mooloolaba so racing on Sunday is not such a big deal.”

Samantha Warriner and Debbie Tanner have already secured two of the possible three spots in the New Zealand team for Beijing with Hewitt and Samuels expected to be the leading contenders to secure the third spot at the final New Zealand selection race in Mooloolaba on March 30th.

The men’s race looks at this stage to be in the hands of series points leader Stephen Sheldrake, a winner of two of the three events so far. The defending Contact Cup Series champion has been in imperious form and will start a hot favourite again on Sunday.

Once again the day will feature a Tri My Sport race for novice, beginner or less confident athletes with distances designed to allow everyday New Zealanders an opportunity to give the sport a go.

Tri NZ CEO Dave Beeche says the response so far to the Tri My Sport concept has been superb.

“This series is about the elite with top quality races in great venues with good prize money. But the Contact Energy My Sport Series is even more focused on the average Kiwi looking to get out and give the sport a go for general health and fitness reasons.”

“Timaru is a particularly good race for the first timers over a short distance and a flat course. If anyone is looking for an entry point into the sport or a return after time out, this is the ideal race.”

Contact Energy My Sport Series, Timaru

Date: Sunday 27th January 2008
Location: Caroline Bay Timaru
Parking by marshals off Marine Parade
Registration Middle of Loop Road Caroline Bay Timaru

Races:
Tri My Sport - 200 m Swim / 11.5 km Cycle / 3.3 km Run
Contact Energy Cup Triathlon (Individual & Teams) - 1500m Swim / 40km Cycle / 10km Run
Also Kayak & Duathlon option

Its still not too late enter, as online entries close Friday at 6pm. Enter at www.triathlon.org.nz

However Late Entries will also be taken at the times and locations below
Saturday 26th January 2008, 1 – 5pm Caroline Bay Hall, Caroline Bay Timaru
Sunday 27th January 2008, 7 – 8.30am at Venue


ENDS

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