Sport, best of the year: 9 Sam Warriner

By David Leggat

It's been a pretty decent year for triathlon. Bevan Docherty won the New Plymouth leg of the ITU World Cup circuit, pipping fellow New Zealander Kris Gemmell in a 1-2 finish.

That should have felt familiar for Docherty after he finished second to Hamish Carter in the Athens Olympics 15 months ago.

Carter qualified for the Commonwealth Games in March, and just missed a medal in what is likely to be his last world championships by five seconds in sweltering conditions in Japan in September.

Christchurch's Andrea Hewitt, in only her fourth attempt at the discipline, won the world under-23 women's title in Japan, and Rangitoto College pupil Rebecca Spence got the silver in the under-19 event.

But top of the pops was Whangarei PE teacher Sam Warriner, who won two World Cup races and grabbed a place in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne with a 16th placing as best New Zealander at the world champs.

Warriner got as high as No 2 in the world during the year, but finished the season at No 8.

She won the Ishigaki leg of the World Cup circuit on May 15, clocking 2h 39s; then won the Hamburg leg in August in 1h 57m 39s.

In between she had finished second at Salford, England, in 2h 04m.

Warriner, who works at Whangarei Girls High, is the only regular elite circuit competitor who works fulltime.

She will have a fierce desire to succeed in Melbourne. At the Athens Olympics she was left frustrated in finishing 18th.

Warriner came to New Zealand eight years ago from Surrey to pursue her teaching career.

"I never thought in a million years when I came to New Zealand that I would end up doing this. I'm living my dream," she said.

The gold-silver effort of Carter and Docherty in Athens gave the sport a jolt in New Zealand. Warriner hopes to play her part in March.

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