New Zealand will be represented by a six strong contingent in the women’s race at the ITU Dextro Energy World Champs Series opener in Sydney this Sunday morning.
Leading the way is 2009 world number three Andrea Hewitt (Christchurch), along with Debbie Tanner (Auckland), Kate McIlroy (Wellington), Nicky Samuels (Wanaka), Teresa Adam (Auckland) and Rebecca Kingsford (Tirau).
World number 18 Tanner has been a busy campaigner already in 2010 and backs up after a strong race at the ITU World Cup in Mooloolaba was undone by a poor final two kilometres on the run.
“Preparation has been pretty good, I am in the middle of a block of training at the moment but this will be my third race already this season.
“We have the best in the world on the start line so you have to bring everything to this race, having a great swim is critical, getting away and possibly making a break on the bike to establish the lead, there are so many girls in close contention at the moment that any break can be the vital one in this sort of racing.”
Tanner says the standard in women’s triathlon has improved dramatically, with no room for an ‘off day’.
“The depth is massive; the sport has developed hugely in the past four or five years, the number of girls across the line now within seconds of each other is so much greater than just a few years ago. You have to bring everything to the race and not hold anything back.”
Tanner has made some changes to her off season work in light of a disappointing 2009 campaign.
“Last year wasn’t the best year and all athletes try to bring out the best in themselves so yes I was disappointed. This year I have gone back to a few basic things and corrected a few things. I have worked with a muscle therapist George Duncan to help keep everything in alignment. This has helped enormously to get me through key sessions of training and then recover well enough to keep on training and then of course be fit for racing.”
Wanaka’s Nicky Samuels has stayed on in Aussie after racing at Mooloolaba a fortnight ago and is targeting a top 15 finish and cooler conditions on Sunday.
“I have been training for the past seven days on the Gold Coast; it has been great being back amongst my relatives and getting some heat training in as well. The build up has been a matter of timing the recovery from Mooloolaba and getting a few key sessions in before Sydney. Training has been going well with new adventures around this area and some solid hills to run and ride, and of course a selection of 50m outdoor swimming pools.
“My goal for Sydney is to finish in the top 15. My race in Mooloolaba went well up until the last 2 laps (5km) on the run so that is my focus this weekend. I want to have a good swim to position myself right for the rest of the race, and follow that up with a solid 10km run. I am hoping it will be a little bit cooler in Sydney than Mooloolaba was and looking at the weather maps while I have been here I might be in luck.”
The field is a top quality one with local favourite Emma Moffatt returning to racing trying to defend her world number one ranking from last year. Moffatt will start despite only recently recovering from a broken shoulder suffered in a bike accident a month ago.
Also likely to feature are Daniela Ryf (SWI), Lisa Norden (SWE) and Helen Jenkins (GBR) with each sure to try and capitalize by pushing the pace on the bike if Moffatt is slowed on the swim by her shoulder.
Meanwhile for Rebecca Kingsford (Tirau) and Teresa Adam (Auckland) Sunday is the chance for both to gain vital experience at the top level.
19 year old Kingsford admits to a few nerves in her first World Champs Series start.
“I’m looking forward to Sunday but I am just a bit nervous. It’s a great opportunity to gain some race experience as it my first year doing Olympic distance. Training has gone well and I have had a good week this last week so hope to have a good race with a good swim as my main goal.”
20 year old Teresa Adam is also looking to learn with each race at the top level and knows what she has to work on.
“I am hoping to have another good swim and bike to follow on from my race at Mooloolaba. I struggled in the heat at Mooloolaba, so would like to get a good solid run in at Sydney. It is great to be able to gain experience at this level, I didn’t really expect it would happen so soon.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity and I am pretty excited and a little nervous. It will be good to get this experience before I head off overseas to Boulder for my first camp. I know my running is an issue but I just have to keep working at it – I am very determined and dedicated and I know the run will come with time and lots of hard work.”
Racing from Sydney will be broadcast live on television in New Zealand, with coverage starting at 9am on Sky Sport 2 (men’s race) and 11.45am (women’s race).
TVNZ will also screen coverage from Sydney starting at 11.30am and running through to 3pm on Sunday with a special edition of Contact Tri TV.