Photos: Alan Lee/Photosport

By Kent Gray/
Community, para and age group excellence was celebrated at the resurrected Triathlon New Zealand Awards – and there is a promise of more to come.

Rotorua Constable Angie Keen, Triathlon Tauranga’s Blake Miller (both short course), Melbourne-based Vanessa Murray and Aucklander Michael Glynn (long distance) were named Tri NZ Age Groupers of the Year in their respective categories at last Saturday’s gala dinner at AUT Millennium.

Cathi Davey was unveiled as Tri NZ Technical Official of the Year, fellow Wellingtonian Maria Williams and Auckland’s Kurt Peterson Tri NZ Para Triathletes of the Year, while reigning Ultraman World champion Simon Cochrane was honoured with the inaugural Presidents Award. You can read more about their achievements below.

Tri NZ CEO Pete De Wet announced that the first inductees into the national governing body’s new Hall of Fame will be announced at next year’s gala dinner. In addition, a slew of new awards, many of them specially designed to acknowledge the crucial role community plays in swim, bike and run across New Zealand, will be added.

The awards set to be added from 2025 are:

• Club of the Year
• Event of the Year
• Volunteer of the Year
• Professional Coach of the Year
• Age Grouper Coach of the Year
• Female Cross Triathlete of the Year
• Male Cross Triathlete of the Year
• People’s Choice Award
• Most Promising Female Junior (U19)
• Most Promising Male Junior (U19)

Tri NZ Age Group Experience Manager, Mel Saltiel, with Tri NZ Female Short Course Age Group Triathlete of the Year, Angie Keen.


Tri NZ Female Short Course Age Grouper of the Year – Angie Keen
Angie Keen epitomises all that is great about age group triathlon.
A relative late comer to our sport in her early 20s, when Keen gave up equestrian to give triathlon a go friends wondered at her decision. Some even openly derided the decision, telling her she wasn’t going to be any good at swim, bike and run.
Fast-forward to 2023 and Keen proved the doubters wrong once and for all, winning three World Triathlon Age Group titles inside four months.
The Rotorua Constable captured the Cross Triathlon title at the World Triathlon Multisport Championships in Ibiza in early May. She then added the 35-39 Age Group Super Sprint Triathlon and Aquabike titles at the World Triathlon Age Group Championships in Pontevedra.
Her year head started with victory at the Tri NZ Suzuki Series Aquabike qualifier in Kinloch and has finished with her not only being named Tri NZ Short Course Age Grouper of the Year, but also Police Sportsperson of the Year.

Tri NZ Male Short Course Age Grouper of the Year – Blake Miller
Blake Miller became a double world champion inside three unforgettable days at the World Triathlon Multisport Championship in Spain in late April-early May.
The Triathlon Tauranga 23-year-old first captured the 20-24 Sprint Duathlon title in Ibiza before ignoring his weary legs to win the Aquathlon title two days later.
It got even better with Blake’s “best mate” and twin brother Liam going on to win the Long Distance Aquabike title a few days later to sign off Team NZ’s memorable 10 medal performance in Ibiza.
Blake raced Oceania Cup Wanaka earlier in 2023 and kicked on from Ibiza to race an African Cup in Egypt, narrowly missing the podium at the African Aquathlon Championships in Sharm El Sheikh.
He was also 21st in his age group at the World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships in Hamburg.

Tri NZ Female Long Distance Age Grouper of the Year – Vanessa Murray
New Zealand-made and Aussie-honed Vanessa Murray underscored her reputation as one of the best amateur triathletes in the world when he won the 35-39 age group title at the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii.
The Canterbury-raised, Melbourne-based 38-year-old completed the ultimate 226km test in 9:34:27.
It was a second Ironman World title for Vanessa who warmed up for 2023 with victory at Ironman NZ in December 2022.

Tri NZ Male Long Distance Age Grouper of the Year – Michael Glynn
Michael Glynn became a double world champion when he won the 55-59 Long Distance Aquabike title in May, beating 37 others at the World Triathlon Multisport Championships in Ibiza in May.
It came six years after Glynn’s first World Triathlon gold medal at the 2017 Aquabike worlds in Penticton.
Michael enjoyed more success in 2023 including finishing 1st overall in the Aquabike racing at the Mt Festival of Multisport and 4th in the same discipline at Challenge Wanaka.


Technical Official of the Year Cathi Davey with Tri NZ’s Mel Saltiel.

Tri NZ Technical Official of the Year – Cathi Davey
One of Tri NZ’s most experienced Technical Officials, Cathi Davey has had a big year both domestically and internationally. 
At home she was the Technical Delegate for Ironman 70.3 in December and the Head Referee for Ironman in March. 
Internationally, Cathi was the Head Referee for the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands and Technical Delegate for the World Paratriathlon Series race in Devonport Tasmania. 
Earlier in the 2023, she also officiated at WTCS Yokohama.
From Wellington, Cathi is the outgoing Chairperson of Tri NZ’s Technical Advisory Group.
She remains an active contributor to the technical programme including developing and supporting our newer officials. 

Tri NZ Board member Bex Grace, on behalf of President Natalie Smith, presents Ultraman World champion Simon Cochrane with the inaugural Presidents Award.


Tri NZ President’s Award – Simon Cochrane
The President’s Award is a tribute to those who have demonstrated unparalleled dedication, selflessness, and excellence in service to our sport.
Whether it’s the unwavering commitment of a technical official, the tireless efforts of a club representative, or the invaluable contributions of a selfless volunteer, this award seeks to honour those who go above and beyond to propel our sport forward.
It could celebrate the generosity of a benevolent benefactor whose support has significantly enriched the triathlon community. Additionally, it may shine a spotlight on the awe-inspiring achievements of an individual who has exhibited extraordinary feats of triathlon prowess.
In essence, the President’s Award embodies the spirit of triathlon – resilience, camaraderie, and the relentless pursuit of excellence.
This year we celebrate a remarkable individual who exemplifies these values and who left an indelible impact on our sport in 2023.
Ultraman triathlon is not for the faint of heart. It’s your “stock standard” Ironman distance. Doubled. A mere 515km of swim, bike and run over three gruelling days.
In the space of seven short months, Simon Cochrane went from Ultraman rookie to world champion. He entered three races in that period – remarkable in and of itself – and won them all… in record time.
In May, on debut, Simon set the fastest ever Ultraman time of 19:48:47 en route to capturing Ultraman Australia in Noosa. In early August he slashed 1hr 35mins off the Penticton course record to claim victory at Ultraman Canada.
At the November world championships on the fabled Big Island of Hawaii, Simon became the King of the suffer-fest world in record smashing – and by now trademark – fashion, winning in 20:57:46.


Tri NZ Female Para Athlete of the Year – Maria Williams
As anyone who has ever tried to combine swim, bike and run knows, triathlon is hard. But try doing our sport as a vision impaired athlete, “essentially totally blind” as Maria Williams describes her disability.
During the judging period, the Wellingtonian and her trusty guide Melissa Moon made it look relatively easy.
Highlights in 2023 included a silver medal in the B1 category at World Triathlon Para Series Devonport in March and 7th at World Triathlon Para Series Yokohama in May.

Kurt Peterson with Tri NZ CEO Pete De Wet.

Tri NZ Male Para Athlete of the Year – Kurt Peterson
Kurt Peterson’s bid to become New Zealand’s first Paralympian triathlete has been a joyful rollercoaster ride.
In the 14 months since the 36-year-old Aucklander came into the Tri NZ program,  he’s won two national titles, chased qualification points at races on three continents, crashed, taken wrong bike turns, taken tough instruction from a new coach and earned himself a new legion of fans.
Don’t forget he knocked off Ironman NZ in March 2022 in a very respectable 14:28:10 too.
Paris looks a step too far this time around but count on the Cerebral Palsy advocate coming back bigger and better this year and beyond.
A more effervescent and team-oriented triathlete in New Zealand you will struggle to find.

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