Triathlon with an eye on the future in Mexico

By Triathlon NZ

Andrea Hewitt leaves the water during the Women's Triathlon at the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty Images
Andrea Hewitt leaves the water during the Women's Triathlon at the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty Images

Triathlon New Zealand very much has its eye on the future as well as the chase for the podium at this weeks ITU World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico.

While Andrea Hewitt chases yet another year ending top three world ranking and other elites Nicky Samuels, Rebecca Spence, Simone Ackermann, and Ryan Sissons look to post great Grand Final results and improve their own world rankings, Tri NZ is heavily invested in the next tier of athletes coming through the pathway, with strong representation at U23 and Junior (U19) level this week.

Lining up wearing the sliver fern in the Junior Races on Saturday morning (NZT) will be Liam Ward (coach, Brett Reid), Dan Hoy (Nathan Richmond), Trent Dodds (Bruce Hunter), Katherine Badham (Nathan Richmond), and Elizabeth Stannard (Will OConnor), while the U23 men kick things off tomorrow (Friday) morning NZT featuring Sam Ward (Auckland, Coach Tim Brazier), Tayler Reid (Gisborne, Stephen Sheldrake/Tim Brazier), and in the early hours of Saturday morning, Maddie Dillon (Auckland, Greg Fraine) in the U23 womens race.

Tri NZ HP Development Coach Tim Brazier says Sam Ward and Tayler Reid are primed and ready to commence the New Zealand campaign with a strong showing on Friday morning NZT.

"Both Sam and Tayler are primed and ready to go for a race that has been their main goal all season. Both have been building up well throughout the year, Sam based in Europe for the past four and a half months with his French team, then working with the Olympic athletes and most recently racing superbly in Edmonton.

"Tayler is stepping up to U23 racing for the first time, he has done a stint in Europe and has since worked alongside the Japanese and Australian athletes in Runaway Bay with our Junior team and will be finding his feet a bit more in this level of racing, with both the quality of athletes and racing over the Olympic distance challenges that he will face head on.

"It has been hot, humid and at times wet here so coping with the conditions will be very important and we have put plans in place to do just that, We have to manage hydration, cooling strategies and pacing yourself throughout to be able to deliver in the final 5km will be important. It will be quite brutal out there."

Juls Clonen is National Talent Development Coach, and with Brazier has worked alongside many of the young athletes and their coaches in the National Talent Squad as they look to develop their careers towards the elite level of the sport.

Clonen says his work goes beyond the simple coach/athlete relationship.

My work is to create the right fundamentals to build the towers of High Performance. Therefore the standards for the National Talent Squad are higher and the athletes has to be looking for continual improvement in all aspects of their lives and careers.

"The New Zealand selection in the Junior team for the World Champs this week is strong but some of them have still to learn a lot and are still very young in triathlon years. It is our ongoing goal to do all we can to make them better. This will be essential for the coming years and might mean less training, better performance by measures of quality and execution and making the right decisions at the right moments.

"Everything for me in my role is about the commitment with and to the athlete, so we know what we can expect. To climb a mountain, you have to do this step by step."

While medals and final placings are very much part of the equation, they are not the be all and end all at this point of an athletes development, as longer term goals and short term welfare of the athlete is first and foremost amongst considerations.

"To get the best out of them and to ensure their long term success, it is important to know the athlete, to know the training content and volume that they are capable of and what will deliver the best results.

"Dan Hoy has made good strides this year, his performance in Penrith is the best answer you can give in regards a High Performance Programme (Hoy won silver in both the U23 and elite Oceania Sprint Championships). This sort of result also leads to expectation for a good performance in Cozumel.

"The same can be said for Liam, who like all the athletes is focused on delivering a very good performance. Also Lizzie Stannard has shown more attitude towards her training and racing this year and has also made good progress. Her previous races were already an indication but I believe she can much better, learning to deal with the pressure of the race and targets is maybe a working point for her, but also this will come soon and is part of all young athletes development.

"The other athletes Katherine, Ainsley Thorpe and Trent are still young and this will be a good experience for them (Thorpe has been ruled out of racing due to a training crash but is with the team for vital experience). The potential is there and with a little bit more time they can grow, like Dan, Liam and Lizzie did this past year."

The investment into the younger and promising athletes and coaches is considerable and has been for the past two years, in the process delivering a group of athletes who spend plenty of time training with each other, living with each other at the HP base in Cambridge and as a result, learning from each other both in training and racing.

The same can be said for the coaching support, with Tri NZ growing the active engagement with the coaching community, with coaches also brought together on a regular basis with Regional Camps, NTS Camps and around racing to ensure good communication and a sharing of ideas leads to innovation and strong results with athletes.

Clonen says the campaign for Cozumel has been a long term plan.

"Planning for Cozumel started a long way back for these athletes and coaches but you must also remember that we are working with a much larger group of athletes beyond just those who have qualified for Mexico.

"The campaign of the Junior team started in earnest really in Runaway Bay in Australia. With a mixed group of athletes (U23 and Junior selected and non-selected athletes) including a Japanese Junior/U23 team of three boys and three girls and the Aussie Junior team, we had two very good weeks of training. That included some key sessions with the Aussies and Japanese, this was a challenge for our juniors and special for our selected team.

"Part two of our campaign was the Florida Camp which helped us adapt to the time difference and heat of Mexico. To train together with the selected U23 and elites was also a benefit. Dan Hoy, Liam Ward and Trent Dodds train quite a lot together with Tayler Reid and also Sam Ward, spending time in training and in living with these more experienced athletes. Sam posted a great result in Edmonton (15th in the WTS event), so it was great for younger brother Liam to train with him in the pool and push him during the bike-Run session."

Again Clonen stresses that these camps are not only for the athletes, but to build the coaching relationships and improve the knowledge in the sport.

"I spend quite a lot of time to create a good relationship and alignment with the home coaches. Bruce Hunter was with me in Runaway Bay as an Assistant Coach. But also the feedback of the home coaches after my weekly report was important and crucial to bring the athletes on the right level. I hope I can work on this process more to create a good working Coaches commission with respect for each other and the development of the athletes and the sport generally."

Triathlon New Zealand Elite Team for ITU World Triathlon Championships, Cozumel, Mexico

Junior Men (U19)

8am NZT Saturday 17 September

Liam Ward (coach, Brett Reid), Dan Hoy (Nathan Richmond), Trent Dodds (Bruce Hunter)

Junior Women (U19)

10am NZT Saturday 17 September

Katherine Badham (Nathan Richmond), Elizabeth Stannard (Will OConnor) - note Ainsley Thorpe is in Cozumel but will not race due to injury.

U23 Men

8am NZT Friday 16 September

Sam Ward (Auckland, Coach Tim Brazier), Tayler Reid (Gisborne, Stephen Sheldrake/Tim Brazier)

U23 Women

12:30am NZT Saturday 17 September

Maddie Dillon (Auckland, Greg Fraine)

Elite Women

8am Sunday 18 September NZT

Andrea Hewitt, Nicky Samuels, Rebecca Spence, Simone Ackermann

Elite Men

8am Monday 19 September NZT

Ryan Sissons (Tony Dodds withdrawn through injury)

- This story has been automatically published using a media release from Triathlon New Zealand

- NZ Herald

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