It was a stunning day for New Zealand at the ITU Word Triathlon Series Grand Final today as Andrea Hewitt won silver and Nicky Samuels claimed bronze in Edmonton.
It was the second week in a row that the Kiwis have shared the WTS podium, but this was all the sweeter on the toughest race day on the calendar with everyone eyeing up the big prize.
Gwen Jorgensen (USA) was an outstanding winner of the race and the overall world title but it was the Kiwis who sparked the race, leading from the front throughout and dominating on the run - that is dominating all but the graceful long striding American who cut out a 1:10 deficit to win gold.
It was a superb end to the season for Hewitt and Samuels though, with Hewitt finishing the season ranked third in the world and Samuels consecutive bronze medals moving her to a career high fifth in the world - two Kiwis in the top five in the world, one of the best end of year ranking results that Tri NZ has experienced.
Hewitt has been in great form at the end of the season, with fourth at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, second in Stockholm and a silver medal here and was very pleased with the second half of her season.
"For things to come together at the end of the season it means so much, second here and second last weekend, I just had a great race today," said Hewitt.
"I felt great I was even up there in the swim, it was great all round today. I'm just really, really pleased," said Hewitt.
Samuels was also delighted with her performance.
"I couldn't really have asked for much better, my run to come into its own on 9 days of quality training, I am happy with that. I was a bit concerned I was jet lagged and was a bit sick coming into this so I am so stoked. The race was quite hard, every race is, it was a great day for it with so many spectators out there and to share the podium with Andrea is special too."
This was race execution at its near perfect best with four New Zealanders emerging from the water in a lead group but then were instrumental in driving a break on the bike that saw 18 riders go clear, leaving behind the group containing Jorgensen and other running threats such as Jodie Stimpson (GBR) and the Aussies Ashleigh Gentle and Emma Jackson.
This work of the four Kiwis driving the front of the train ensured that New Zealand was the nation everyone was talking about during this Grand Final - even if the ever lurking figure of Jorgensen was not out of calculations thanks to her simply out of this world running ability.
Tri NZ HP Coach Jon Brown has worked closely with Samuels in recent weeks and indeed throughout the past year, he spoke of how proud he was to see the New Zealanders bossing the front of the race.
"For Nicky it has been frustrating really, she has had good fitness the whole year but has been struggling to express it in a race, training wise she has been very impressive. After Glasgow she joined us at Tri NZ for our camp in Spain and we could work on things more closely and it has paid off. We just made a few tweaks to how she thinks about she is running and we have been trying to get her to relax a lot more and just a few small technical changes really. More importantly it is about Nicky being more confident and more relaxed - she has the fitness to run well, it is her thinking at key points in the race how she can control her effort and stay relaxed.
"Last week I was telling her she can podium for sure, I think she is starting to believe it now, today was very impressive, seeing two Kiwi girls leading the race at the front and managing the race is very impressive."
ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final
1 Gwen Jorgensen USA 2:00:05
2 Andrea Hewitt NZL 2:00:21
3 Nicky Samuels NZL 2:00:31
4 Sarah Groff USA 2:01:20
5 Aileen Reid IRL 2:01:21
19 Kate McIlroy NZL 2:02:50
23 Rebecca Clarke NZL 2:04:18
42 Simone Ackermann NZL 2:07:57