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Athletes to represent NZ at the Triathlon World Champs

The Elite, U23 and Junior athletes to represent New Zealand at the 2019 ITU Triathlon World Championships in Lausanne along with the team for the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event in Tokyo have been named.

The athletes selected for the 2019 ITU Triathlon World Championships from the 29th August to the 1st September in Lausanne, Switzerland are;

Elite Team
Sam Ward
Hayden Wilde
Ryan Sissons
Sophie Corbidge

U23 Team
Kiri Atkin
Nicole van der Kaay
Ainsley Thorpe*
Trent Thorpe
Tayler Reid
Kyle Smith*
*Selection for athletes is conditional on International Triathlon Union (ITU) points 33 days out from the event.

Junior Team
Brea Roderick
Hannah Knighton
Dylan McCullough
Lachlan Haycock
Saxon Morgan
Olivia Cummings*
*New Zealand have qualified for three starting positions in the men and two in the women and cannot request another women's spot until approximately thirty days before the race. These spots were earned at the Oceania U19 Championships in March.

The athletes selected for the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Mixed Relay (MR) Event on the 15th and 16th August in Tokyo, Japan are;

Ainsley Thorpe
Nicole van der Kaay
Sophie Corbidge
Hayden Wilde
Tayler Reid
Ryan Sissons
The team to race the MR will be selected from the following athletes by the Selection Advisors following the individual race.

National Performance Manager of Triathlon New Zealand Stephen Sheldrake says that the team is looking forward to the World Championships "Lausanne is known for producing a tough honest course which suits NZ athletes and that last year the flat Gold Coast course did not really suit the stronger athletes that we tend to produce. The Elite Team will be wanting to end the international season on a high at the pinnacle individual event of the year. This is a chance to gather more Olympic qualifying points as the event carries more points being the grand final. This will be the first time both Sophie and Hayden have been part of an Elite Team and will be wanting to see how they stack up against the rest of the world. Sam was top 13th last year and will be wanting to crack the top ten as will Ryan who has been steadily getting better post an injury last year that put him out of last season's Grand Final."

Sheldrake says that the form heading into the Tokyo test event is good and that he is also looking forward to seeing what the MR team can do. “We are coming off an outstanding 4th place at the MR World Championships in Hamburg, Germany and the team will race in Edmonton, Canada next weekend where we podiumed last year. In Tokyo, it will be our first chance to see what the course is like with the very warm conditions we are also expecting for the Olympics. The squad of six athletes that have been selected for the MR event in Tokyo are a young team who are getting better and better at every event. The exception of youth is Ryan who will add a lot of experience of racing, with it being his third Olympic test event and he is keen to show everyone that he has one very good Olympics left in him."

Hayden Wilde is happy to be part of the team and reflective of how far he has come in a short period of time. "Two and a half years ago I raced my first ITU race, that’s when the dream began. I knew it was going to be tough and a massive step from what I was doing. The sacrifice, determination and awesome support for the past few years has paid off and I’m absolutely thrilled to be apart of the New Zealand Team heading to Switzerland for Worlds and to Tokyo for the Olympic test event."

Ryan Sissons says he's happy to be part of the team again and especially part of the Mixed Relay squad for Tokyo ."It's great to be selected in the MR team for Tokyo. I haven’t raced a MR event since my bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 so I am looking forward to potentially lining up for team NZ in Tokyo."

Sam Ward says that he is looking forward to a tough course at the Grand Final. "After a long season it will be an interesting race and hopefully I can be up at the front on the run."

Sophie Corbidge is looking forward to her first experience as an Elite athlete at Worlds. “I’ve never raced at an Elite World Championship event - after my U19 and U23 world champs experiences, I had years of injury and illness that prevented me from attending Elite World Champs. I'm so excited to get to Lausanne and do NZ proud and for the Tokyo MR Event where it will be very special to compete in on the Olympic course!”

Sheldrake says re the U23 team have been racing very well this year at Continental Cups, World Cup (WC) events, MR and WTS events. "In June, at the Antwerp WC Ainsley had her first podium with a very well executed race which has given her a lot of confidence. In Hamburg WTS Nicole made her way back to the front of the racing against the best female athletes in the worldand produced a wonderful 11th.
This will be Kiri’s second U23 world championships and she will looking to improve on last year. She is currently training well in Banyoles, Spain with the rest of the NZ team. Reid and Thorpe will add a lot of pace to the front of the U23 men’s race with both of them being two of the fastest swimmers in triathlon in the world. Both like to attack races and push the pace from the very beginning. Reid is the defending U23 world champion and will be looking to retain this title in Lausanne, something no one has ever done before.

Tayler Reid says that he thinks that the team has prepared well for the upcoming key races for the season, "I'm stoked to have been named in the squad for the World Championships and Tokyo Test event. I'm looking forward to racing on the Olympic course and helping secure selection for NZ’s MR. We have been based in Banyoles, Spain for the majority of the time we have been to Europe, hopefully this has prepared us for the heat we will face in Tokyo."

Nicole van der Kaay is also happy to be part of the Elite team "I am so delighted to be selected to represent NZL for both U23 Worlds and Tokyo teams relay! I cannot wait to put the black suit on & give it my all in front of the world."

Kiri Atkin from Christchurch who qualfied earlier in the season says that she is looking forward to the opportunity, "I’m really happy to be selected for the U23 team. This past year has been tough with a lot of change for me so I’m looking forward to getting to Lausanne and seeing what I can do.

Ainsley Thorpe has been named for the Tokyo Test Event but is waiting on the third selection spot for Worlds. Should she race in Lausanne she will join her brother Trent Thorpe on the team. I'm very happy to be named in Mixed Relay Team again but this time for Tokyo which will be a really good opportunity to get an idea of what it will be like at the Olympics. I'm also happy to be named in the Worlds U23 team for the first time and if we get the third selection spot it will be great to race alongside my brother Trent."

Trent Thorpe who also qualified earlier in the season says that this years World Champs could be extra special. "It makes it a bit more special when I can race at World Champs in Switzerland while competing under the same flag as my sister, especially when we are roughly the same age, with similar goals and dreams in the sport.”

In Lausanne there is a Mixed Relay event that is made up of U19 and U23 athletes which could potentially see brother and sister competing on the same team.

Some of the elite and U23 team will have another hit out this weekend with the 2019 ITU World Triathlon Mixed Relay Series Edmonton and 2019 ITU World Triathlon Edmonton events.

Sheldrake says that he is looking forward to seeing what the Junior team can do. “We have an exciting squad made up of experienced Juniors with Saxon, Hannah, Brea, Dylan all having raced at the World Champs last year on the Gold Coast and all the athletes having raced against quality Junior athletes regularly."

Sheldrake says that having all our Junior athletes training and racing overseas before Lausanne is key to positive outcomes. "It is very hard getting athletes ready in a NZ winter for a World Champs in September so with Saxon, Dylan and Brea in Europe and Hannah and Lachlan currently in Canada this will put the athletes in great shape for September.”

Dylan McCullough is the current Youth Olympic Champion and Sheldrake says that he will be wanting to add a Junior World Title to his resume “Dylan will be hungry for more success in Lausanne after last years result at the Youth Olympics. Dylan is one of the fastest triathlon swimmers in the world and his bike and run ability are on a rapid rise."

McCullough says that he is always proud to represent New Zealand “I’m really looking forward to representing NZ again at the Junior World Champs in Lausanne this year, it means a lot to be selected and I will be doing my absolute best to make my country and support team proud”.
“After making some mistakes at last year’s World Championships, I have learnt a lot and grown as an athlete so I’m hoping to put those lessons into practice to execute the best possible result I am capable of”.

Hannah Knighton has also been pointed out as one to watch. Sheldrake says “Hannah has a very good run that she will be wanting to make sure her swim and bike ability will present her with an opportunity to use this run strength”. Knighton says that she is excited to have been named in the team again and looking forward to returning to race in Lausanne as well. "I'm really excited to be part the the NZ Junior Elite team to be competing at the World Champs in Lausanne. I raced there two years ago and loved course. The lake is clear and nice to swim in and the bike course has a steep hill on each lap."

Brea Roderick says that she is excited and looking forward to heading to Europe for the first time “I am super excited and really honoured to be representing New Zealand as a Junior Elite at the World Champs".
“I’m also looking forward to the learning and experiences I will gain from training and racing in different conditions and the challenges of travelling in Europe for the first time”.

Lachlan Haycock says that he is looking forward to the next few months of training and racing. “I'm loving training and racing in Canada at the Continental Cups races and competing against other Juniors before gearing up to travel to Switzerland for World Champs in August. After placing 2nd in the 16-18 Age-Group World Champs last year on the Gold Coast, I am super excited to step up into the Junior Elite race this year in Lausanne in what will be my first time in Europe."

Saxon Morgan says he is is looking forward to building on his experiences from last year. "Representing New Zealand for the first time last year at World Champions really motivated me. I am excited to have been selected to the NZ U19 team again this year and look forward to improving on my 10th place finish last year. I love the team culture that triathlon New Zealand has making the trips away to races very enjoyable."

Photos of all the athletes can be found here. More photo options and interviews available on request

About the Athletes

Ainsley Thorpe comes from a strong sporting family and is from Auckland but is currently based in Cambridge. Ainsley had her first World Cup Race in 2018 and has been a key part of New Zealand’s success in the mixed relay format.

Brea Roderick is 17 years old from Methven and is currently in Year Twelve. Brea has been competing in triathlon for the past three and a half years and last year competed in the Youth Olympic Games. Brea really enjoys the variety of the three disciplines in triathlon.

Dylan McCullough is 18 years old and from Auckland but is currently based in Cambridge training with the Triathlon New Zealand High Performance Squad. Dylan is the current Youth Olympic Champion for Triathlon, claiming Gold in Buenos Aires in 2018. Dylan is also the current Junior Oceania Triathlon Champion.

Hannah Knighton is from Tauranga and is the current New Zealand Sprint Distance Triathlon Champion and Junior Oceania Champion. Hannah is also a Hilary Scholar at the University of Waikato where she is studying for a BSc in Data Analytics and Human Performance Science.

Hayden Wilde comes from a long distance off road background and has raced the Coast to Coast, Xterra and has been the ITU Cross Tri U23 World Champion. Hayden is originally from Whakatane but currently trains in Tauranga. He made the change to ITU triathlon to chase his dreams to compete at the Olympic Games. In 2 years he has dropped his world ranking into the top 60.

Kiri Atkin is a triathlete from Christchurch. She raced in the U23 team last year at the world champs on the Gold Coast and has made the team again for Lausanne this year. Kiri also finished her Bachelors degree last year and juggles training and working as a tax consultant at Deloitte.

Kyle Smith is a triathlete from Matamata and is currently based in Cambridge.

Lachlan Haycock is 19 years old from Tauranga and started triathlon at age fifteen with his first race at the Kinloch triathlon in 2016. Following on from his first taste of the sport, Lachlan started to train specifically for triathlons with help from my coach Chris Willett of Perimeter Coaching. Lachlan has previously been the New Zealand U19 Schools Duathlon Champion and the New Zealand U19 Sprint Distance Triathlon Champion, along with placing second at the 16-19 Age-Group Sprint Distance World Triathlon Championships and the U19 Oceania Triathlon Champs. I finished school at Tauranga Boys College in 2018 and I am now in my first year of tertiary study out of the new Tauranga campus for Waikato University.

Nicole van der Kaay was attracted to triathlon for its variety and capacity to absorb her boundless energy. Last year saw Nicole’s best results include a fourth place finish in the ITU Triathlon Grand Final Gold Coast and podiums at various other ITU events. Orginally from Taupo, van der Kaay is currently studying towards a BSc in Psychology and is based in Cambridge.

Olivia Cummings is the current Under-19 New Zealand Schools Triathlon Champion after winning in the title in New Plymouth at the end of last season. Olivia is from Otumoetai in the Bay of Plenty and comes from a swimming background. Olivia admits to being a competitive person.

Ryan Sissons is a Commonwealth Game medallist who has also competed at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Sissons won bronze as part of New Zealand’s team in the mixed team relay event at Gold Coast 2018. Sissons has raced on the ITU stage since 2009 and has enjoyed a strong campaign that includes two top ten performances in 2016 as well as winning the 2017 Madrid ITU Triathlon World Cup. At the London Olympic Games he placed 33rd and at Rio Olympic Games he placed 17th.

Sam Ward is the 2019 NZ Triathlon Champion and currently ranked 12th in the world. Sam grew up in Auckland in a family that has always had a passion for endurance sport. He has been living and training in Cambridge with the NZ team for the last 4 years.

Saxon Morgan is an 18 year-old triathlete from Christchurch. His biggest achievement to date is placing tenth at the Junior World Triathlon Championships on the Gold Coast last year. Saxon’s main goal for 2019 is to be top 5 (hopefully podium) at Junior World Championships held in Lausanne Switzerland late August. Saxon is passionate about triathlon and has aspirations of one day becoming an Olympian at the 2024, and/or 2028 Olympic Games.

Sophie Corbidge lives and trains in Cambridge and comes from an 800m athletics background, so thrives in short-distance events like the mixed relay. Sophie is also studying a Post Grad Diploma of Teaching at Waikato University and works in social media.

Tayler Reid is the current U23 World Triathlon Champion having taken out the title at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on the Gold Coast. Tayler is originally from Gisborne but currently resides in Cambridge with the High Performance Team. Tayler is also doing his Business Degree via Massey University.

Trent Thorpe is an U23 elite triathlete from Auckland. He made the move from swimming in 2015 into triathlon NZ sport transfer programme. Thorpe’s most notable results include being a member of the U23 Worlds Team in 2017. 3rd at the Devonport Oceania Sprint Distance Champs and second at the Oceania Standards Distance Champs.


About the 2019 Tokyo Test Event.
From the 15th and 16th August the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Olympic Qualification Event for the Tokyo 2020 Games will incorporate Elite Male and Female races, Mixed Relay and Paratriathlon races. All of the races will take place in the Odaiba Marine Park, the very same venue and courses where, almost exactly one year later, the world’s top triathletes will be vying for Olympic glory. Those competing in the Tokyo Test Event will be able to familiarise themselves with the seasonal temperatures and conditions that they can expect to experience a year later.

About the 2019 ITU Triathlon World Championships.
From the 29th August to 1st September 2019, Lausanne will host the ITU Triathlon World Championships including the Grand Final of the World Triathlon Series.

More than 4000 professional and amateur triathletes from all over the world are expected to take part in these world championships, whose different routes will liven up the shores of Lake Geneva for a weekend.

These events will be broadcast live on national television channels and www.triathlonLIVE.tv and will crown the world's top two triathletes within a year of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The detailed programme of the event can be found at https://lausanne.triathlon.org/fr/infos-pratiques/schedule/.

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