Doddsy – Athletes arrive for World Triathlon Series Grand Final

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Triathlon New Zealand’s elite athletes arrive in London tonight New Zealand time to race in the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final, each hoping for strong finish to their 2013 campaign but also with an eye on qualification for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Andrea Hewitt, Kate McIlroy, Nicky Samuels, Ryan Sissons, Tony Dodds and Martin van Barneveld will line up wearing the silver fern on the same course used at the 2012 London Olympics, each with their own targets and objectives on race day.

Tri NZ National Coach Greg Fraine has been working closely with the elite group, including the past 3 weeks as the majority of the athletes spending time at altitude at Font Romeu (France), putting the final touches to their preparations.

“We have had a good last 2 and half weeks at FR, we are going to be pleased to be away mind you, this morning it was about 4 degrees when we got up early and headed to the pool, so it is a good time to leave, but preparation has been fantastic as we put the finishing touches on the athletes build up to London.

“They have all been very focused on this race, there are a number of things on the line for them, it is the final race of the year and is a key race but this is what they have been aiming for, all of them have this as a pinnacle event for the year so they have been very focused. Mentally they have done all the preparation and they are tapering back now and thinking about the race and making sure they are focused on what they can control and focusing on what is going to happen on Saturday and Sunday repetitively for the women and the men. If they execute well the result will look after itself.”

Wanaka’s Tony Dodds is just pleased to have made it to the start line, after a few years when this hasn’t been the case.

“It has been a good three weeks up here, I think we are all looking forward to the weekend, at the start of the season it was always going to be two key races for me with Auckland and London, I ticked off Auckland and now have London to go. On the lucky side it is the first time in three years I have made it to a Grand Final, I have always had injury or had an accident so I am pretty stoked to be in this position this year!

“I have a plan in place and that is to try and make the front bunch. There hasn’t been a race so far this year in the World Series when the Brownlees and Gomez have let the chase bunch catch up; it has always been a breakaway so I plan on making that and getting on the pain train and sitting in until the run. I have confidence in all three disciplines at the moment but either way I have a plan A and plan B and I am still confident in my run.”

Wellington’s Kate McIlroy goes into the Grand Final ranked 12th in the world. After a strong start to the season faded in the middle stages of her year, McIlroy is keenly anticipating Saturday’s race.

“It brings back good memories going back to London and I have had a few good weeks up here in Font Romeu so I am looking forward to getting on that start line. I am concentrating on my race, my last few haven’t been that great with a few problems with my heel but I finally feel I am back on top of it and have had some good running since I have been in Font Romeu so I am looking forward to what I can do on the run.

“I just want to run my own race and concentrate on what I have to do. It is also a Commonwealth Games selection race as well, it would be nice to qualify this weekend and to do that you have to finish in the top 12 so I am aiming to do that or better really.”

McIlroy has had constant support from the Tri NZ High Performance Programme physio James Vickers.

“We have had James here with us for the whole time we have been away, he has been great and has got me on a strengthening programme which has taken the pain away from my heel and has allowed me to get some speed sessions under my belt. It is pretty important to be able to complete your run training when competing against the best in the world, I feel like I am moving better than I have for a few months and in the best shape I have been for a little while.”

So the goals are twofold, first to finish as high up in the fields as they can and secondly to see if that good performance will help deliver a nomination for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. To achieve that the following criteria must be met:

– Be first Kiwi and in the top 12 overall in London

– Be second Kiwi and in the top 12 overall in London

The second selection race is the Auckland World Triathlon Series race next April, when the selectors will be looking for a top 8 finish for any places that are still available for the elite men’s and women’s teams for Glasgow. With Tri NZ able to select up to 3 individuals in each event, there will be at least one nomination still available in Auckland, with the possibility of more if athletes do not meet the criteria in London this weekend.

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