TRIATHLETES LEAVE DECISION IN THE HANDS OF THE SELECTORS
The New Zealand women have left all the work in the hands of the Tri NZ selectors after missing the final chance at an automatic nomination for London at the Sydney World Champs Series triathlon today.
World number two Andrea Hewitt raced superbly for third place behind Erin Densham (AUS) and Helen Jenkins (GBR) but with Hewitt already having booked her place in London, the pressure was on the other Kiwis to make the top 8 and join her on the Olympic team. The selectors will now use discretion in naming their team, with two spots guaranteed for New Zealand but a third likely subject to New Zealand qualifying inside the top 8 nations on the ITU Olympic rankings at the end of May.
Hewitt was pleased with her early season form and result, one that maintains her overall lead in the World Champs Series standings after victory in Yokohama.
“I’m really happy the race went really well for me today, the run went out really hard, but I had so much support out here today and they helped me through. On that last lap people were saying ‘the elastic band is breaking, it’s going’, but I just got there and held on for third.
“I’m building up this year for London and that is clearly my goal so I am on track after a performance like this.”
Nicky Samuels came closest to the top 8 and an automatic nomination, running a superb second half of the 10km run to come home 12th, 1 minute 22 seconds behind race winner Densham and a tantalising 14 seconds outside that magic top 8.
“I wanted top 8 but first Kiwi that hasn’t qualified so that should help,” said Samuels. “I was really close to the top 8 but not quite there but I am confident I can come out and do it again. It was all down to this race, I haven’t planned too much beyond this other than I will keep on training and working on my running with plenty of time to do that so I am happy with where I am.
“I’m happy with my run, to finish strongly is something I always used to be able to do but haven’t done for a few years so I am happy to finally have that back. It now comes down to selector’s discretion so we will wait and see.”
Debbie Tanner faded slightly on the second half of the run, coming home in 20th place while Kate McIlroy simply couldn’t get things going on the run, finishing a disappointing 27th.
Tanner has her fingers crossed for a return to the Games after finishing 10th in Beijing.
“I’ve been pretty consistent in the last few races, getting better and better and I feel like I am on the way up. I was feeling confident with all three disciplines, they have been going well in training, to have a good swim and be in the front pack and to bike as well as anyone else out there today and to come off the bike and run against 50 girls in what turned into a running race I just lost a few vital seconds in the closing kilometres.
“I was second Kiwi home in London after being ill and today I am third Kiwi home so hopefully that shows the selectors that I can be consistent and get up there and be amongst it, as I said I am only moving forward so hopefully I can get on the team and represent New Zealand at the Games.”
The Kiwis were well positioned out of the water, with Rebecca Kingsford the only one to miss the lead group as they headed out on to the 40km bike ride. But that situation didn’t last beyond the halfway point on the bike with Nicola Spirig (SUI) driving the chase group of 24 up to the leaders to form a large peloton of over 50 riders with the favourites jockeying for position nearing the transition to the run.
And the best in the sport were all to the fore, Emma Moffat (AUS), Helen Jenkins (GBR), Lisa Norden (SWE) and Mooloolaba World Cup winner Erin Densham (AUS) were all riding strongly and never far from the lead while renowned runners Emma Jackson (AUS) and Emma Snowsill (AUS) were as usual doing as little work as possible on the bike, hovering near the back of the group for the entire 40km distance.
Once on the run Densham, Jenkins and Hewitt quickly established themselves as the strongest on the day, shaking the attention of any pretenders. Tanner began strongly and for the first kilometre was just inside that crucial top 8 while McIlroy and Samuels settled a little further back.
Densham proved strongest over the closing stages as first Hewitt and then Jenkins faded, leaving the Aussie to claim victory and further her Olympic hopes with the Aussie selectors.
Tri NZ National Coach Greg Fraine and selected athletes will be available for comment on a teleconference at 5pm NZT today with the following dial in details:
· For media in New Zealand, please dial 083033 and use the pin: 756345
ITU World Champs Series
1. Erin Densham AUS 2:01:29
2. Helen Jenkins GBR 2:01:38
3. Andrea Hewitt NZL 2:01:45
4. Gwen Jorgenson USA 2:02:12
5. Nicola Spirig SUI 2:02:19
6. Ainhoa Murua ESP 2:02:26
7. Anne Haug GER 2:02:32
8. Kathy Tremblay CAN 2:02:34
9. Mariko Adachi JPN 2:02:39
10. Ashleigh Gentle AUS 2:02:40
12 Nicky Samuels NZL 2:02:51
20 Debbie Tanner NZL 2:03:15
27 Kate McIlroy NZL 2:03:41
42 Simone AckermannNZL 2:05:10
52 Teresa Adam NZL 2:07:40
DNF Rebecca Kingsford NZL