There's been blood on the floor within the world of New Zealand triathlon this week.

High performance boss Graeme Maw resigned after four years in the job and rarely can a senior figure in a sport have been given such a rousing single figure salute by the sport's best performers.

"Busy ruining TriNZ for 4 yrs!" was the reaction of the country's finest triathlete Andrea Hewitt.

Added Ryan Sissons, the leading male athlete: "If Graeme was still in the role that he had moving forward, I would opt not to be part of Triathlon New Zealand at all."


New Zealand's last two multi-sport Games results have been disappointing and these days results are the only parameter which matters in funding terms, so TriNZ are taking steps.

One of the criticisms of Maw was he oversaw a controlling culture which restricted the top athletes in who they could train with. There was insufficient flexibility to allow them to work with coaches with whom they had a good relationship.

So TriNZ have organised a gathering of leading coaches, ex-athletes and some prominent observers from outside the sport on November 16 to try to map a way forward.

Coaches such as Chris Pilone and John Hellemans are passionate and forthright on their sport.

Cycling New Zealand chief executive Andrew Matheson is on TriNZ's advisory group; former Black Sox coach Eddie Kohlhase is their linkman to High Performance Sport.

In addition to having no replacement for Maw in place, TriNZ have no chief executive, since the resignation of Craig Waugh before the Olympics. Given the sport is to undergo a rebuilding project it has been decided to wait until after plans are in place to make an appointment.

"My job, and the board's job, is to minimise the [financial] loss by proving to HPSNZ that we've got our ship in order," TriNZ president Arthur Klap said.

"I'm confident that when the coaches and athletes get an opportunity to hear from us what our planning is, how we're [going] to approach it and what engagement they'll have in the process, that they'll quickly turn around and say 'yeah, that's the way to go'."

Time was when New Zealand was among the heavyweights of the sport.

Three of the first nine Olympic men's medals handed out from 2000 to 2008 went to New Zealanders Hamish Carter - one of Klap's key advisers in the future planning - and Bevan Docherty. Only eight countries have won men's and women's medals at the Olympics in five editions.

But the range of countries embracing the sport, and being pretty good at it, is growing. Klap doesn't accept New Zealand have fallen away; rather he sees it as a sport with greater global engagement.

"Now more countries are better and the standard is exceptionally high. But it is realistic for us to target medals and put people in a position where we could win a medal.

"We are still one of most powerful nations, certainly in the top 10, but when you have the amount of money being poured into the sport it becomes very competitive, so we have to be really smart in what we do."

And here's a clue to one possible change in philosophy. Klap talks of a change in the way elite athletes are training and their relationship with their national sports bodies. Britain's remarkable Brownlee brothers, who have won four of the last six Olympic medals, train in South Africa; the best woman triathlete, American Gwen Jorgensen trains on the Gold Coast.

"They are more campaign-focused."

Klap was disappointed in the social media "ventings" of Hewitt and Sissons, but he acknowledged they are a result of frustration at wanting to be heard.

Events next month should rectify that issue.

Key issues

• Triathlon New Zealand are holding a meeting on November 16 to plan a four-year strategy to the Tokyo Olympics to re-invigorate the sport.

• Results at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and the Rio Olympics last August have been below expectations.

• TriNZ know they're facing a financial cut from High Performance Sport NZ in December. The sport received $7.6 million over the past four years but funding is directly related to results.