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Mooloolaba World Cup Looms Large In Olympic Dreams

27th March 2008

For immediate release from Tri NZ

Mooloolaba World Cup Looms Large In Kiwi Olympic Dreams

The holiday beachside town of Mooloolaba in Australia will this weekend take on special significance for a number of New Zealand’s triathlon elite as the final spots on the Beijing Olympic team are decided.

Sunday sees the opening ITU BG World Cup race of the year at Mooloolaba but more importantly for those yet to qualify for Beijing, it is the final Olympic qualifying race as set down by Tri NZ and with one spot on the line in both men’s and women’s teams, competition is fierce indeed.

Rowing may have had Waddell versus Drysdale but Triathlon has that level of competition in both men’s and women’s divisions for their third spots in Beijing, with world class athletes certain to miss out such is the depth of the sport.

In the men’s it is generally agreed that the match race to join Bevan Docherty and Kris Gemmell on the start line in Beijing is between world number 25 Shane Reed and world number 27 Terenzo Bozzone. Adding to the intrigue is the fact these two athletes couldn’t be any more different if they tried.

34 year old Reed has over 70 World Cups to his long CV, is quietly spoken, married with new son Lucas and lives and trains in provincial New Plymouth. He has recently teamed up with Coach Brendon Downey.

The now Australian based mentor believes his charge is ready for a big day.

“We didn’t peak for Wellington and since then patience has been the key with the focus on steady training sessions, I am very happy with where Shane is heading into this race,” said Downey.

“Incredibly he has raced Mooloolaba 12 times so knows the course and the surroundings intimately with regards strategy and tactics. I think that experience will be extremely helpful to him on Sunday.”

23 year old Bozzone is a two time World Junior champion, has already raced 17 World Cups, enjoys a high profile and is always ready for an interview or sponsor opportunity.

But the North Shore based athlete makes no bones about the ultimate goal of racing at the Olympics.

“I have been looking forward to the Mooloolaba World Cup for some time now; it is going to play a huge role in how the rest of my year will unfold. If all goes to plan I will be in Beijing in August representing NZ at what has always been my biggest dream/goal – the Olympic Games.”

But while Bozzone may be young in years; he is experienced enough in racing to know not to get carried away.

“This weekend will just be another race, but with the amount of importance placed on it I hope that it is just another race, albeit one that goes to plan.

“I am going to have to race strong from start to finish. Shane is a good athlete and there are others capable of a big performance on the day so there will be no room for error on my behalf.”

The others referred to by Bozzone include Clark Ellice and James Elvery, both of whom will compete on Sunday hoping for the race of their lives if they are to upset their more fancied rivals.

If Reed and Bozzone are the two to watch in the men’s there can be no question that Nicky Samuels and Andrea Hewitt are the two racing for the final spot alongside Sam Warriner and Debbie Tanner in the women’s race at Beijing.

Samuels has enjoyed a busy racing summer, winning the Contact Energy Cup Series and in the process defeating her higher ranked rival and sometimes training partner, most recently running past Hewitt into third at the Oceania Championships in Wellington.

Hewitt though has clearly targeted Mooloolaba and with a world ranking of 15th against Samuels 30th ranking is the slight favourite. The Christchurch athlete is ready for Sunday.

“I have had a mixed bag of summer training in preparation but I believe I have had the best taper,” said Hewitt.

“I have a set of fresh legs for Mooloolaba. The Olympics only comes around every 4 years, I want to make the most of it.”

Hewitt plans to race as usual on Sunday and rely on a game plan that has led her to success in the past.

“I always focus on having a good swim to set me up for a good bike and then use every last bit of energy on the 10km run.”

The criteria for nomination is simple yet demanding. For any New Zealand athlete to effectively book their ticket to Beijing they must be the first New Zealander (not yet qualified for Beijing) and finish in the top five at Mooloolaba. Anything less than this will see the decision or decisions left in the hands of the Tri NZ selectors. This is also assuming the athlete meets other Tri NZ and ITU criteria.

Regardless, any nominations will first be approved by the Tri NZ Board and then forwarded to the New Zealand Olympic Committee for ratification before the athlete is assured of their place at the Games.

Therefore any announcement regarding full and final confirmation of the team for Beijing is not expected until at least Wednesday next week, and could come as late as the ITU BG World Cup in New Plymouth on April 6th.

Further information will follow in a media advisory with regards to news feeds featuring race footage, interviews with leading New Zealanders and race winners.

The race can be followed live at www.triathlon.org with the elite women starting at 2.05pm NZT and the elite men starting at 4.40pm NZT.

ends

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