Triathlete Andrea Hewitt has become the first athlete to gain selection into the New Zealand Team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Hewitt achieved the New Zealand Olympic Committee selection criteria with three World Triathlon Series podium finishes, the first occurring in the 2014 Grand Final in Edmonton, followed by bronze medals in Auckland and Stockholm in 2015.

The Cantabrian backed up those results with a string of consistent performances, including a fourth place finish at the Chicago Grand Final and the World Championship silver medal, the fifth time in seven seasons that Hewitt has been ranked in the top three in the world.

Hewitt has amassed 27 medals at World Cup, World Triathlon Series and World Championship events in her career, including the bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Advertisement

The 33-year-old has also managed 25 consecutive top ten placings in elite races dating back over two years.

Hewitt's selection is however, conditional upon New Zealand receiving a quota spot for the Rio 2016 Women's Triathlon Event, which is likely to be confirmed at the end of May 2016.

"I am very proud to be the first New Zealander selected to represent our country at the Olympic Games in Rio," Hewitt said from her base in France.

"I want to use the time in the lead up to prepare as best I can to wear the silver fern and represent New Zealand proudly in Rio next year.

"Gaining selection to the Olympic Games is a challenging process, as it should be, no one should expect to have an easy path.

"But the criteria was made clear and outlined early by Tri NZ and I was able to plan back in March as to how I would go about achieving a nomination to the New Zealand Olympic Committee and then ultimately selection. I was able to achieve that early in the process, in April at the Auckland World Triathlon Series, which with a home crowd made it all the better."

Hewitt's selection is the first of what is set to be New Zealand's biggest Olympic Team ever. More than 200 athletes are expected to represent New Zealand in Rio 2016.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Chief Executive Kereyn Smith is excited to have New Zealand's first name down on the team list.

Triathlon New Zealand High Performance Director Graeme Maw says the early selection in what was a challenging criteria is credit to Hewitt and will set her Rio campaign up well.

"We're delighted for Andrea and the recognition of her being the first athlete selected to the New Zealand Team for Rio." Graeme said.

"We aimed to give the athletes a clear pathway to the Games, and Andrea rose to the challenge of a high selection bar.

"She and her coach, Laurent Vidal, can now focus on a smooth preparation, much of which she's rehearsed this year."

The next opportunity for New Zealand Triathletes to gain selection to the New Zealand Team for Rio will be at the end of May 2016, with the majority of selections expected to take place between March and July 2016.

To earn a spot in the New Zealand Team, athletes need to meet the requirements of their sport's nomination criteria, one of which is to demonstrate that they can finish in the top 16 at the Olympic Games to earn a spot in the New Zealand Team, or if they are participating in a team sport, they must demonstrate they can advance beyond pool play at the games.

International quota spots do not necessarily guarantee a spot in the New Zealand Olympic team.