Andrea Hewitt will have knowledge on her side attacking the Commonwealth Games triathlon course on April 5.

She won the Gold Coast-hosted World Triathlon Series event on a similar course a year ago.

The race was a sprint event – the format adopted by the Commonwealth Games for the first time - which means halving the Olympic distance to a 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.

The terrain is largely flat apart from, as Hewitt describes it, "a slight hill over the bridge in Southport".


She competes in the individual race the day after her 36th birthday, alongside fellow Kiwis Nicole van der Kaay and Rebecca Spence. The relay follows on April 7 with a team yet to be named.

This is Hewitt's third Games after earning bronze in Melbourne, and finishing fourth in Glasgow. The sport was absent from the Delhi programme.

"A sprint race leaves you no room for error," Hewitt told the Herald from the comfort of a bean bag outside the athletes' village.

"I race more of those now, on the circuit in France and Germany, but generally a 10km run suits me better.

"My goal is to have a good swim. Last year a few races didn't go well because of that."

On the Gold Coast in 2017, Hewitt hung on to win by four seconds from Australian hope Ashleigh Gentle. She led by seven seconds after the swim and two seconds after the bike before gaining two seconds in the final transition which enabled her to hang on.

"I went for it," Hewitt said of that triumph.

"I didn't win by sitting and waiting in the pack. I'll be looking out for swimming and biking breakaways.


"They have moved the course a little more away from the waterfront. Apart from that, it's the same. It's a bit technical around the corners on the bike, but generally flat."

The competition will be strong regardless, courtesy of triathlon's popularity in the Commonwealth.

The strong–running Gentle boosts local hopes; Brits Jess Learmonth, Vicky Holland and Sophie Coldwell make a strong trio; Wales' Non Stanford poses a threat; and 2016 and 2017 world triathlon series champion Flora Duffy could earn Bermuda's second gold after Nicky Saunders in the 1990 men's high jump at Auckland.

Whenever you speak to Hewitt it's impossible not to feel empathy for a woman who lost her long-term partner and coach, Laurent Vidal, to a cardiac arrest in November 2015.

Veteran triathlon and athletics coach Chris Pilone took the reins of her programme for a while. Now, she is back under the guidance of swim mentor Roly Crichton and the man who introduced her to the sport, Dr John Hellemans.

"I've had a lot of support back in Christchurch, training with a good group around me, including a few local age group triathletes.

"It's been hard, but it's been good because I've been at home."