Tri NZ Media Release
• World Triathlon Cup Napier and Oceania Standard Distance Champs to serve double duty
• NZ Standard Distance title to be decided on Aussie soil every other year
• Innovate approach taken to maximise tight Oceania racing window
Special tri suit demarcation in development to celebrate NZ Sprint & Standard Distance champions
Auckland, NZ (December 15, 2023) – Triathlon New Zealand is to double down on key dates in triathlon’s annual Southern Hemisphere calendar to crown elite national champions over the sport’s two predominant and globally accepted short course distances.
World Triathlon Cup Napier will double as the elite NZ Sprint Championships (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run) on February 24. The Oceania Standard Distance Championships, back in the Hawke’s Bay tourism hotspot on April 14, will then serve as the elite NZ Standard Distance Championship over what is oft referred to as the ‘Olympic’ distance of 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run.
In a nod to cycling’s rainbow jersey, awarded to world champions in a tradition dating back to 1927, Tri NZ hopes to recognise the elite NZ Sprint and Standard Distance champions with a special demarcation on their race suits for the following year. A design and necessary approval from World Triathlon are works already in progress.
While the sprint title is guaranteed to be decided on NZ soil for at least the next three years in accordance with Napier’s World Triathlon Cup deal, the Oceania Standard Distance Championship alternates annually between NZ and Australia. That means the NZ Standard Distance Championships will be decided every other year in Australia, an innovative ‘first Kiwi past the post’ move designed to maximise the tight elite Oceania window before New Zealand’s finest head north on their annual European migration.
Rolling down World Triathlon’s standardised age groups, the Oceania Standard Distance Championships in Napier on April 14 will also double as the NZ U23 Standard Distance Championship. The NZ U23 Sprint Championship will be tagged to the Oceania Sprint Championships which are to be held in Devonport, Tasmania on March 16-17 next year.
The Oceania Junior (U19) Championships have been incorporated into World Triathlon Cup Napier meaning the NZ Junior Championships will be decided on February 24.
The move to reinstate the elite NZ Sprint and Standard Distance titles will not only add gravitas to the Oceania events from a Kiwi perspective, it is also designed to remove confusion in the market place.
While elites are welcome to participate in the open categories at ‘Tri NZ Suzuki Series’ events such as the annual Tinman Triathlon, which doubles as the NZ Age Group Standard Distance Championships in Tauranga each November, they are ineligible to be recognised as national champions. Many of the Tri NZ Suzuki Series events also fall during the precious off-season for NZ’s elites or clash with Oceania events.
Tri NZ CEO Pete De Wet says the move to elevate and celebrate NZ’s finest sprint and standard distance exponents is a key strategic move as the sport builds on a surge of optimism leading into the XXXIII Olympics in Paris.
“These events offer a great opportunity for Tri NZ to recognise the best male and female elite athlete across these distances. Significant sacrifices are made by athletes as they strive to be their best, and this will give just recognition for all that hard work,” said De Wet.
Given the compact and busy Oceania window at the start of a cram-packed World Triathlon schedule, De Wet said it was not feasible to add standalone sprint and standard distance NZ championships. Cue the unique Aussie twist.
“We have worked closely with AusTriathlon to ensure an equitable distribution of the Oceania Championships events each year with the Standard Distance event alternating between the countries. The great news is we’ll crown the Standard Distance national champions every year, regardless of whether the event is happening here, or in Australia”.
Photo: Delly Carr/Triathlon Australia