Triathlon New Zealand Mixed Relay Team Take Gold!
The ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Lausanne, Switzerland was completed overnight with the New Zealand team of Hannah Kinghton, Tayler Reid, Ainsley Thorpe and Hayden Wilde winning the final event, the Junior/U23 Mixed Relay.
In last years Grand Final on the Gold Coast, New Zealand was in a photo finish for the Gold Medal only to be disqualified for a technical error. Redemption was on their minds with Reid, Thorpe and Wilde all part of last years team.
Knighton lead the team out on the first leg with a strong 300m swim, 4.8km bike and 1.37km run against Junior and U23 athletes. Knighton handed over to her teammate Reid who closed the small gap early into the bike after a strong swim. Reid would hand over to Thorpe in 4th place with New Zealand amoungst a group of athletes forming a big lead at the front of the race. Thorpe would maintain that placing at the handover to Wilde and after a good swim Wilde was able to catch the front bunch on the bike with 5 countries battling it out for podium spots. Just before T2 Wilde was able make a break buiding a 7 second lead into the run. Wilde held onto his lead to celebrate with his teammates on the finish line.
Knighton was thrilled to be part of the team and to win in what was her first major ITU Mixed Relay event and after coming 4th in the individual Junior Womens event on Friday. “It was insane, the team was so good, it was a new event for me and they’d all raced together before so it was so great to have their support and to learn from them”.
Reid who finished 23rd in the U23 individual event on Friday said it was hard work. “It’s mental, I’m up to my eyeballs in lactate, drowning in the stuff. Everyone was just sending it as we didn’t quite get what anyone wanted in the individual race, epic”.
Thorpe, who has been a big part of New Zealand’s recent Mixed Relay success as a lead out athlete says the new role was great experience. “I havent raced the third leg so it was a whole new experience and I felt good, we came here wanting redemption after being dq’d last year, we just wanted gold”.
It was Wilde who had a double celebration, taking the Gold on his birthday. “I had one of my best swims and went well on the bike. I didnt realise that I had such a gap going into T2 and I was stoked to hold on for the win to celebrate with the team”.
Hamish Carter, General Manager of Performance at Triathlon New Zealand said that the Mixed Relay team delivered another really impressive performance. “The Mixed Relay team continue to impress with what they are able to deliver under pressure as such a young group”.
Carter says that this performances just kicks off what has been a really great season for a young New Zealand team whilst acknowledging that it’s been a hard season. “Hannah Knighton and Brea Roderick in the Junior Women and Ainsley Thorpe in the U23 Women all in the top 10 which bodes well for the future of triathlon in New Zealand. Some of our other athletes have come to Switzerland with a little bit more fatique in their body than they would have liked. It’s an Olympic qualifing year and the Tokyo Test event carried a pretty significant priority and for that reason some haven’t fired as they would have liked”.
Junior/U23 Mixed Relay
1st Team New Zealand
4th Hannah Knighton
10th Brea Roderick
15th Saxon Morgan
21st Lachlan Haycock
22nd Dylan McCullough
9th Ainsley Thorpe
DNF Kiri Atkin
11th Kyle Smith
23rd Tayler Reid
25th Hayden Wilde
DNF Sam Ward
DNF Ryan Sissons
Photos from the Junior/U23 Mixed Relay event can be found here. Please Credit ITU Media / Ben Lumley. More photo options and interviews available on request.