London Calling for Kiwi Triathletes – Women’s Race Preview
This weekend’s round of the ITU Dextro Energy World Championship Series in London may be a dress rehearsal for the 2012 Olympics, but it also carries the more pressing matter of qualification for London 2012 for New Zealand’s leading contenders.
Triathlon New Zealand’s selection policy allows for up to three triathletes to book their places in London, subject to NZOC ratification and New Zealand earning those three spots next year. More realistically, a top 10 finish for the top two Kiwis will effectively book a spot in London. But with many other nations also using the London round of the World Champs Series to select their teams, this will be no easy feat.
Tri NZ National Coach Greg Fraine says this weekend is the big one.
“The athletes, personal coaches and Tri NZ staff have been working towards London 2012 for the past three years. This weekend will answer some of the unknowns we have. We are all very excited and a little apprehensive about this weekend.
“Our ultimate goal is to have three men and three women qualify but realistically two would be an outstanding result. The course does not suit our male athletes but we have been aware of this for the past three years and have been preparing the best way to compete against the rest of the world. Our female athletes are able to challenge the best on any course.”
Leading the way for New Zealand in the women’s race on Saturday evening (NZT) is Andrea Hewitt, currently ranked third in the World Champs Series. Hewitt has finished in the top four in each round she has contested this year and the Cantabrian is again looking for that consistency to earn her a spot at the Olympics next year.
“I am feeling great about my running and my cycling and swimming are both still consistent. I had a good build up race in Hamburg where I finished fourth. It was the fastest run of the year, especially the middle part. Then I had some trouble around the 8km and struggled to keep up with the surges. So in London I really have to focus at this time and be reactive.
“Last year in London I ran fast out of transition in the lead but this year I would like to hold back at the start and keep more for later. The difference in the top athletes is so small, the most important part being the last five minutes of the two hour race.
“I am excited about racing on the Olympic course. We'll be cycling up Constitution Hill past Buckingham Palace eight times so if that doesn’t get you up on race day, nothing will.”
Joining Hewitt on the start line are a host of other Kiwi contenders, all with an eye on securing one of up to three spots. Kate McIlroy, Debbie Tanner and Nicky Samuels have also set up their seasons around this big race, with Samuels basing herself in Europe to better prepare.
“I have been here in Oxford since July 24 to minimise travel leading up to ‘the big race’. While training here is not ideal it is ‘doable’ but the upside is I only have an hour bus ride to London. I have done a lot of travel this year so far and to be in one place for another 10 days a great feeling.
“All my training since November last year has been focussed on the goal of Olympic selection, so hopefully my body does what it is trained to do on the day and everything pans out the way my coach and I have planned. I know the fitness is there and with only a few more days to go, it’s exciting to know the outcome is near.”
Kate McIlroy has had a disrupted build up with a calf injury setting her running back a few weeks, but she too is focused on a good outcome.
“I am really looking forward to racing London this weekend as I have had pretty solid results here the last two years. I have had a really good block of training since leaving New Zealand in May getting my swimming, running and cycling to a level that I am really happy with.
“Since pulling out of Hamburg though I have had a slight issue with my left calf which has interrupted my run training a little. It's a bit frustrating, but I know I have done the hard work, so now it's doing everything I can to get my calf in the best possible shape for Saturday.”
Debbie Tanner has looked at her training and racing programme after a disappointing first part of the season but believes she has it right for this weekend.
“Since Hamburg I have moved back to my training base in Font Romeu in the Pyreenes. My coach Pete Pfitzinger has joined me helping me to put the final and most important finishing touches on the programme leading into London.
“After evaluating the last race in Hamburg we believe that I went into the race over-trained so have used the time in the last three weeks to ensure that I get the balance right. I have started to include some speed workouts also which I believe will bring out my form at the right time.
“London is going to be the toughest race of the year with most countries using it as a selection race for Olympic Games, I am looking forward to and excited about racing on Saturday.”
The formula to earn selection (subject to the NZOC) is simple, finish as one of the top two Kiwis and inside the top 10 overall in London and the Games are on. Alternatively finish in the top three New Zealanders and in the top five overall this weekend and that too will secure a nomination to the NZOC for London.
Full Tri NZ Olympic selection criteria can be viewed at: http://www.triathlon.org.nz/london-olympics/London-Olympics
ITU Dextro Energy World Champs Series
Saturday 6th August, 7:30pm (NZT)
Andrea Hewitt (Christchurch) World Ranking: 3
Kate McIlroy (Wellington) 14
Nicky Samuels (Wanaka) 30
Debbie Tanner (Auckland) 33
Delayed coverage on Sky Television and live at www.triathlon.org
Men’s preview will set to follow, for further information visit www.triathlon.org.nz or www.triathlon.org
Full audio interview with Andrea Hewitt is available on request by replying to this email.