Triathlon Royalty Returns to New Plymouth
22nd March 2019
One of the Kings of triathlon in multiple World Champion and Olympic Games medalist Javier Gomez (Spain) headlines the start lists for the upcoming ITU New Plymouth Triathlon World Cup, with racing held on March 31st as part of the Taranaki Tri Festival of events.
The Spanish superstar is headed down under to start his return to ITU racing. After two years spent primarily competing in longer distances, the 36-year-old has made his intention clear to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year and will be keen to show he has lost none of the short twitch fibres that made him one of the best the sport has ever seen.
Gomez spends many weeks training in New Zealand and last summer married former Kiwi swimmer and triathlete Anneke Jenkins, further strengthening his ties to this part of the world. His return to top level ITU racing has caused quite some chatter in the triathlon world as he chases that elusive Olympic games gold medal after winning silver in London 2012.
Event Director Shanelle Barrett is delighted that Gomez will grace New Plymouth with his superstar quality.
“Javier is quite simply one of the best triathletes the sport has ever seen, his ability to win races in different circumstances, his longevity in the sport and his versatility over multiple formats is second to none. Given his age and his goal of qualifying for Tokyo, this may well be one of the final opportunities to see him in the flesh racing in New Zealand, so in that sense the community of Taranaki are in for a rare treat – and it comes absolutely free!”
Gomez is no stranger to New Plymouth having raced here in 2008, taking out first place before he would go on to finish fourth at the Beijing Olympic Games, and in 2014 when he finished second behind countryman Mario Mola.
“I’m excited to do an ITU race again, it’s been a while! New Plymouth is a race that I’ve always liked and have great memories from 2008 and 2014, when I raced there. For me it’s a preparation race for World Triathlon Series in Bermuda and I look forward to some fast racing again.”
Gomez will face a field full of young up and coming talent however, as well as a few wise old heads such as New Zealand’s own Ryan Sissons as he too starts on a journey towards another Olympic Games next year.
Mathew McElroy (USA) finished third last year and Tyler Mislawchuk (CAN) fourth, and both return in good form having finished fifth and first respectively at the recent ITU Mooloolaba World Cup. The win was a breakthrough for the young Canadian, it being his first at ITU World Cup level.
They are part of a strong international field with a total of 30 countries represented in a truly global turnout of triathletes.
The Kiwi young guns will be lining up looking for a little home town glory as well, led by 2018 Commonwealth Games medalist Tayler Reid, the likes of Sam Ward and Hayden Wilde will be looking to continue a strong start to the international season after racing well at the OTU Sprint Championship in Devonport recently, with Reid winning and Trent Thorpe finishing third.
Reid sums up the importance of a good showing in New Plymouth, as he too chases his Olympic dream.
“For me personally, I am on the fringe of gaining World Tri Series (WTS) starts and so every point counts. Having a good result in New Plymouth will set me up well for the year and get me closer to achieving a spot in Tokyo. A strong performance in New Plymouth is therefore very important, but most of the races are this year with Olympic qualification on the line. A good result in New Plymouth would set me up to be on track to achieving the big goal of Olympic Qualification.”
Reid led out of the water in 2018 before eventually finishing 19th and went on to win bronze with the young New Zealand team in the Team Relay at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, memorably anchoring the team to a medal. The 22-year-old Gisborne athlete values the chance to race at home in front of family and friends, as he did that day on the Gold Coast.
“New Plymouth is the only big race we have at home now, so everyone wants a start, and everyone wants to perform there. I like the head space I get in racing at home, I feel like I’m racing to defend my home and want to be on the podium to do that. It’s also such a great feeling to have heaps of support out on the course and a lot of my family make the trip to come watch.”
A student of the sport, Reid also acknowledges the rich history in New Plymouth, some of which helped inspire him into the sport.
“The run course is iconic for the sprint between Bevan Docherty and Kris Gemmell. I think that has to be one of the greatest sprint finishes in our sport ever. It’s something I always think about when I come to New Plymouth.”
Fans will get to see the best in the world up close and personal at absolutely no charge, with spectator entry to free for all to the Ngamotu Beach event, with the Mellowpuff Tri-Fest Charity Fun Run held in between elite women’s and men’s races on the Sunday, with 50% of the $10 entry fee donated to local charity Mellowpuff Trust. All entrants in the Fun Run/Walk are in the draw to win a brand new Slumberzone Bed from House of Beds in Taranaki.
For the full Elite Men’s field in New
Plymouth, CLICK HERE Javier Gomez Noya
– Career Highlights Olympic
Games: silver medal London 2012,
ITU World Championships: Gold
medal and world champion 2006, 07, 08, 10, 13, 14, 15
Silver medal 2007, 09, 12, 17 Bronze medal
2011 IRONMAN 70.3 Gold medal
and world champion 2014, 17 Bronze medal 2015, 18
XTERRA World Championships (cross country
triathlon) Gold medal 2012
European Championship Gold medal
and champion 2007, 09, 12, 16 Silver medal 2010
Taranaki Triathlon Festival
All events at Ngamotu Beach Tuesday 26 March, 8am to 1pm
Sanitarium Weet-bix Kids Tryathlon, 7 – 15 years age categories Thursday 28 March, 3pm to 7pm
Athlete Registration, WIL Sport NZ Schools Tri Champs Friday 29 March
10am WIL Sport NZ Schools Tri Champs,
3pm WIL Sport NZ Schools T1T2 Relay Saturday 30 March
8am WIL Sport NZ Schools Tag Team Relays
12pm WIL Sport NZ Schools Prize giving Sunday 31 March
10:45am Elite Women, New Plymouth ITU Triathlon World Cup
12pm Fun Run for Mellowpuff
1:15pm Elite Men, New Plymouth ITU Triathlon World Cup
2:30pm Medal Presentations