Hayden Wilde has vowed to turn the disappointment of his dismissed Commonwealth Games appeal into World Championship glory “for New Zealand” in Abu Dhabi next week.
World Triathlon has advised Triathlon New Zealand that the appeal it lodged on behalf of Wilde following the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games individual men’s race on July 29 has been dismissed.
Wilde was issued a 10 second penalty for allegedly unclipping his helmet before he had racked his bike in the bike-to-run transition area, costing the Kiwi No.1 the chance to sprint for the gold medal with British rival Alex Yee after having led the race up to that point.
Tri NZ is disappointed with the result as it considers that there was no evidence of Wilde doing what was alleged. Indeed, Tri NZ and Wilde contend that the evidence available supported Wilde’s position that he did not unclip his helmet but rather prepared to unclip it once his bike was racked.
However, the World Triathlon Tribunal did not agree and determined that in the absence of evidence of the penalty being imposed in “bad faith”, they would defer to the judgement of the officials on the ground, giving deference to a decision that was made on the ‘field of play’.
Since receiving the decision, Tri NZ and Wilde have considered whether a further appeal, to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), would be appropriate. Ultimately, a decision has been made not to take the matter further, notwithstanding the collective disappointment at the outcome of the process.
Wilde has instead decided to redirect his energy into winning the sport’s premier title, the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) at the season finale which is set to be decided in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 26 (early Sunday, Nov. 27 NZT).
“I know what I did and I know what I did wasn’t wrong [in Birmingham] but at the end of the day you kind of can’t dwell on the past, you’ve just got to look to the future and I think that is what I’m doing currently,” Wilde said.
“I’ve got my eyes set on a different goal now, as much as I wanted that gold medal in Birmingham. I’ve got my eyes set on being crowned a world champ which I think is a huge opportunity for me and for New Zealand.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a world champ, the last time was Bevan Docherty [in 2004]. My goals are to look forward and try and get this world title and bring it back home to New Zealand.”
After victories in Leeds and Hamburg and a pair of second placings in Yokohama and Montreal, Wilde will enter the WTCS decider in the UAE capital in the No.1 bib.
The Whakatane 25-year-old ironically finds himself racing Yee for the world title after Yee notched wins in Yokohama, Montreal and Cagliari, the latter a race Wilde bypassed, in addition to the final regular season event in Bermuda, opting instead to spend an entire month prepping in Abu Dhabi.
Wilde’s ‘Monk Mode’ training block in Abu Dhabi comes after he was crowned Super League Triathlon champion in Neom, Saudi Arabia on Oct. 29 after three wins and two third placings in the separate five-event series.
“For me, I’m in a good head space. I think I was a little bit dark on it but I just had to use that anger and frustration through Super League which I came home with [courtesy of] three wins and two podiums. So [I’ll] definitely use that bit of frustration to build on heading into world champs,” Wilde continued.
“I always look forward to a good battle with Alex . He’s been in some fine form and my form has been pretty good too so I’m really looking forward to this race.”
Tri NZ CEO Pete de Wet said the governing body was “extremely proud” of Wilde’s silver medal in Birmingham and the “sportsmanship Hayden showed to the gold medal winner, Alex Yee, when he decided to take the penalty, knowing that this meant he was likely giving away his chance for gold.”
“At the time Hayden did not know why he was being penalised but he showed respect to the decision issued on the field of play and to his fellow competitor. In doing so, he represented both New Zealand, and himself, with a high degree of integrity and sportsmanship,” De Wet said.
Given the matter has now been resolved by World Triathlon, Tri NZ do not propose to make any further comment regarding the penalty, or the process that has followed. Instead, de Wet said the sport looked forward to celebrating “Hayden’s, and our other triathletes’, challenges and successes moving forward.”
“We are proud of the way Hayden has put the disappointment of the penalty in Birmingham behind him, showing us all the resilience and determination that makes him one of the best triathletes in the world.”