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Triathlon: Warriner ponders Olympics

Samantha Warriner. Photo / APN
Samantha Warriner. Photo / APN

Samantha Warriner is considering a comeback to Olympic distance triathlon with a view to competing at the London Games.

The two-time Olympian has been competing at the longer 70.3 and Ironman distances since the end of the 2008 season when she was the overall International Triathlon Union World Cup winner. She could not translate that to Beijing Olympic success where she finished 18th, having come 16th at Athens four years earlier.

Warriner turned 40 in August and, with two places still available on the New Zealand women's team for London, she is weighing up another crack at the 1.5km swim, 40km bike and 10km run.

"I really don't know which way to head. I'm not prepared to make a decision yet but I'm enjoying being back racing [shorter distances]. I'm wondering what the qualifying standards are - I might have a go."

Warriner would have to compete at the ITU world championship series event at Sydney in April. Triathlon New Zealand (TNZ) wants a male and female athlete to get top eight results at that event to qualify a spot before they resort to selecting on the basis of discretion.

Andrea Hewitt is the only New Zealand name inked in for the Olympic team so far, on the back of her sixth at the London world championship series event in August. Warriner says depending on TNZ's strategy, she'd be prepared to be a team player for Hewitt.

"Andrea is in a class of her own at the moment - she is so consistent - she's almost always been around the podium this year and others are scared of her. That's good to see but there is a gap from there to the next best Kiwis [Kate McIlroy, Debbie Tanner and Nicky Samuels]. I've done no speedwork but I have done a terrific base with my Ironman training. I'm not prepared to commit either way but I'm putting it out there as an option. I'm thinking if there's a chance and they are talking about working as a team, I believe my cycling's improved to a point where I could help Andrea by protecting her legs ahead of the run."

Having grown up in Britain, Warriner jokes she would be a minimal addition to costs.

"My mum lives about an hour down the road [from London] so accommodation's sorted and my husband says he'll carry my bags, so I'm sweet. Triathlon New Zealand's only got to provide the spot."

Warriner won the New Zealand Ironman in March, was fifth in the UK Ironman 70.3 in June and fifth in the Frankfurt Ironman in July. However, she was disappointed with 17th at the world championships in Kona, Hawaii during October. That result has her re-assessing her next move.

"I was down after Kona. I let myself go badly. Like many athletes, I had put my eggs in one basket and it took a while to get over it. I've come back, done a few shorter distances and really enjoyed them. Looking at my run times, I'm not far off what is required [at Olympic distance level] which is promising because I certainly haven't done any speedwork."

Warriner will continue mentoring younger athletes to the upper levels of the sport. She does that through the Sweat7 programme - also known as Sam-Warriner-Energy-Attitude-Training-Seven-Days-A-Week.

- Herald on Sunday

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