Olympics: Kiwi women fail to fire in triathlon

Andrea Hewitt was the best-placed Kiwi finisher in the Olympic women's triathlon in sixth place. Source / Mark Mitchell NZ Herald
Andrea Hewitt was the best-placed Kiwi finisher in the Olympic women's triathlon in sixth place. Source / Mark Mitchell NZ Herald

Andrea Hewitt, Kate McIlroy and Nicky Samuels have finished out of the medals in the Olympic triathlon.

In a race that came down to who could put in the strongest run-leg, Hewitt and McIlroy, who had emerged from the cycle in contention, just couldn't keep pace with the leaders.

"I just didn't have the energy to keep going and I dropped off near the end. It was a rough swim and a good bike, it was going to be a perfect day but while I was up there for the first half of the run, I just didn't have the legs today.

"I was in the lead group at the start of the run then it went down to 7, 6 and 5 and unfortunately I just dropped off. I was okay early, there were a few surges early so I sat back to avoid that a bit of tripping that was close to happening, I was staying at the back to keep out of trouble but eventually I just couldn't hold on any more."

Nicola Spirig of Switzerland won the gold in an almost photo-finish with Sweden's Lisa Norden. Australia's Erin Densham took the bronze with Hewitt eventually the best-placed Kiwi in sixth.

McIlroy was delighted with her 10th-place finish after being close to the leading bunch for most of the race.

"I am happy with that to be honest, the run was fast, I didn't think we worked that hard on the bike but we still had a good gap on the chase group and that helped me. I slowly worked my way through the field on the run after having a bad transition, a problem with my shoes held me up for 5 seconds or so when the tongue on one of my shoes got a bit tangled up. But I finished strongly and I am happy with 10th place.

"There were random bursts on the bike, we had the best bikers in our front group and I wasn't prepared to do all the work on the front, those girls were biking well but we could see we were gaining each lap so it was a case of sitting in at times and saving my legs for the run."

McIlroy has struggled in the past with injury and will now be pleased that she's registered an Olympic result.

"You always want to win a medal and do better if you can; top ten though is a good effort after what has been a rocky road throughout my career. To actually be here, performing well and finishing in 10th with a body in one piece feels pretty good, it was great."

Samuels was behind the eight ball after a poor start.

"I was pretty much last to the first buoy; I just haven't been able to nail the start of the swim. Once on the bike I didn't want to do any of the work to bring up any fast runners to the lead group, I just babysat at the back of the group and hopefully helped Andrea maintain the right position so that is the way I rode out the race. Essentially it was a case of trying to mess things up and slow the group up.

"The run wasn't great either, the course was hard on the legs with the camber all the way, my calves are killing me. But I think my race was over after the start of the swim to be honest, from that point it was a case of hoping the other girls were doing well."

It was Hewitt who emerged from the initial swim leg as the lead Kiwi, 1:12 behind the leaders with McIlroy close behind.

The pair were then part of a chasing group that hunted down a bunch of seven riders within two laps on the bike, all the while the Kiwis let their rivals do the bulk of the leg-work.

A strong transition at the end of the cycle leg put Hewitt into the lead group of runners while McIlroy struggled out of the bike to trail the lead bunch by around ten seconds.

Halfway through the run Hewitt began to struggle to keep pace with the lead runners and she eventually dropped off the lead to effectively end her hopes of a medal.


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