By Kent Gray/
The search for the next gen of Olympic and Commonwealth Games triathletes has its 2024 blueprint with the release of dates and venues for this summer’s Tri NZ Junior Series.

Both the U16 and U19 categories will open at the Manawatu Triathlon League from January 12-14, a three-day series of Super League style racing split into separate swim, bike and run events.

The U16 series will then be decided at the Bay Radiology NZ Schools Championship in Mount Maunganui on March 21-22.

The U19s will kick on from Palmerston North to Oceania Cup Wanaka on February 16 and the World Triathlon Cup Napier weekend on February 24-25, sharing the stage with many of the world’s finest elite short course athletes.

The U19s will race shoulder to shoulder with the elites in the twilight Wanaka sprint race and will contest the Oceania Junior Championships, also over the sprint distance of 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run, on February 24 in Napier. The following day, the Oceania Junior Mixed Team Relay (MTR) will be held on the same Ahuriri Beach course.

Chris Willett, Tri NZ’s Development Lead, is excited to lock in the Tri NZ Junior Series on the back of the shorn-up World Triathlon and Oceania Triathlon calendars for 2024.

Auckland’s Olivia Rooney en route to the senior girls title at the 2023 NZ Schools Championship in Glendhu Bay.

While the immediate focus is on next summer’s XXXIII Olympiad in Paris, the Tri NZ Junior Series is designed to unearth potential stars for the 2032 Brisbane Games and Olympics and Commonwealth Games beyond.  

“With the excitement of the finalised elite calendar being published and all the buzz around NZ’s round of the World Triathlon Cup shifting to Napier, it’s great to set out the opportunities our junior athletes can sink their teeth into throughout the summer,” Willett said.

“The series kicks off with an event that has been growing over the past three years and really does encompass a lot of quality racing across a whole weekend. The Manawatu Tri League included four races to test the skills and speed of all in some Super League style conditions. Each race carries a set of ranking points to ensure all athletes have the chance to let their specific discipline strengths shine across the three days.”

The U19s will race shoulder to shoulder with the elites, and spurred on by big crowds, at Oceania Cup Wanaka.

Willett is also looking forward to Wanaka where he predicts “ferocious racing” for the U19s and much inspiration from the crowds lining the out-and-back style course in the tourist hotspot.

He describes the U19 racing incorporated into World Cup Napier as the “big show’.

“The U19’s will have the privilege of racing over the same course against their Aussie rivals for the Oceania title. Add the fact it is the Tri NZ Junior Series Final and the qualifier for the Junior World Champs team to go to Malaga in October and it will lump the pressure on these young shoulders. It will be fascinating to which athletes put their hands up.”

Lucy Evans and Benjamin Airey won the 2023 U19 Tri NZ Junior Series titles with the U16 crowns going to Neve McKenzie and Alec Ball.

2024 Tri NZ Junior Series

January 12-14 Manawatu Triathlon League
March 21-22 Bay Radiology NZ Schools Championships

January 12-14 Manawatu Triathlon League
February 16 Oceania Cup Wanaka
February 24-25 Oceania Junior Sprint & Relay Championships (World Triathlon Cup Napier)

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