Auckland Looms Large with Glasgow on Mind for Triathletes
30 March 2014
Media Release from Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Triathlon, Auckland. For further information visit www.triauckland.co.nz
Auckland Looms Large with Glasgow on Mind for Kiwi Triathletes
New Zealand’s leading triathletes are just one week away from the opening round of the ITU World Triathlon Series with the hosting of the Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Series event in Auckland on Sunday April 6, an event that also has added significance as a qualifying race for the New Zealand team to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
The World Triathlon Series will take the athletes through races in Auckland, Cape Town, Yokohama, London, Chicago, Hamburg and Stockholm, before culminating in the Grand Final in Edmonton to crown the World Champion. Interjected this year for Kiwis and others is the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July, where athletes will race individually and also in a Mixed Team Relay for which NZ are current world silver-medalists.
World-ranked number 5, Andrea Hewitt (Christchurch), is the only athlete to have so far met the criteria for nomination to the NZOC for selection to Glasgow, having done so in placing 8th at the ITU World Series Grand Final in London in 2013. For the rest, Auckland carries all the more significance in their quest to be on that team in July this year.
Triathlon NZ High Performance Director Graeme Maw says Auckland is the chance for the triathletes to tick another box before the selectors make their final deliberations.
“The task is to put together a medal-winning team for Glasgow, and the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland World Series race provides the pinnacle of the domestic season to see how our athletes compete against the best in the world. In order to be truly competitive in Glasgow, we have set a benchmark of top 8 in Auckland, and in addition to Andrea, this will be the first criteria the selectors consider.
“There are also some athletes not able to compete here, or compete to their best due to injury – Tony Dodds, for example, after sadly breaking his elbow while prominent in New Plymouth last weekend – and these must be considered in the mix. And further we have to put together a Team Relay from our nominees, to build on the medal won in Hamburg last year. So, it’s quite a blend we’re after, using selectors’ discretion combined with benchmarks like top 8 in Auckland.”
Dodds will miss the race entirely as a result of the elbow injury, as will Oceania Sprint Champion Sophie Corbidge with a back injury. 2012 Olympian Kate McIlroy will start though short of her best, continuing her return from surgery after her season debut in New Plymouth last weekend. World Xterra Champion, Nicky Samuels, and National Road Cycling medalist, Tom Davison, will be amongst those to stake their claim after strong campaigns in the .Kiwi Tri Series.
The criterion of top 8 finish relates specifically to the Auckland World Series race, alongside the selectors’ discretion to nominate a medal-winning Team, though is not however a guarantee on its own that a triathlete can book their flights to Glasgow.
Indeed the names put forward by the Tri NZ Selection Panel still require ratification by the NZOC, it is not a case of ‘naming’ a team and expecting them as of right to be on the plane for Glasgow. Maw says there are many factors for the selectors to consider.
“It is not a right that we have ‘x’ many seats on the plane to Glasgow, and we must establish medal-winning potential both for individual athletes and as a Team. This obviously relates to the Mixed Team Relay, which arguably must come first among nominations as existing World Championship medalists, and also the feasibility to contest the individual races as a Team. We see this increasingly in ITU racing, if athletes can genuinely influence a race on behalf of others, and will certainly be something to consider.”
So while the first goal for all will be to race well, podium and ultimately try and win the race in Auckland on Sunday April 6, the New Zealanders will also need to embrace the pressure that a selection race such as this brings, knowing that a well-executed race plan could lead to wearing the silver fern at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in July.
The full selection criteria for Glasgow can be read by CLICKING HERE
For start lists for the Barfoot & Thompson ITU World Series race on April 6 in Auckland CLICK HERE (please note that withdrawals due to injury such as Tony Dodds may not be reflected in the start lists).