The New Zealand team for the first Triathlon Mixed Relay World Series event of the season in Abu Dhabi on 7th March has been named with six athletes making up the squad.
Nicole van der Kaay, Sophie Corbidge, Andrea Hewitt, Sam Ward, Hayden Wilde and Ryan Sissons have been selected.
General Manager of Performance at Triathlon New Zealand Hamish Carter says the selectors have picked six athletes as part of the team to represent New Zealand in the last World Triathlon Series (WTS) Mixed Relay event before Tokyo. “Olympic selection happens in April and this being a WTS race it’s the highest level of racing and a great opportunity for the selected athletes to show what they are capable of. There are limited races left between now and Olympic selection so this is an opportunity for athletes to put their best foot forward”.
Carter says that the selectors have gone with a slightly different group than those that raced last year, he says that this is an indication that they are wanting to see what other athletes are capable of, so they have the best group to pick the best team from. “This is an opportunity for some of the athletes to show what they can do in a Mixed Relay race, including Andrea who hasn’t raced Mixed Relay since Edmonton in 2018 plus Sam and Ryan who only raced in the Mixed Relay team once last year”.
Carter says that the next opportunity after Abu Dhabi will be the Mixed Relay Oceania Championships in New Plymouth in March alongside the New Plymouth ITU Triathlon World Cup. “We will be able to enter multiple Mixed Relay teams and ultimately there is also an individual element which the selectors will also factor into selection. Being on New Zealand soil and having the NZ Age-Group Sprint Distance Championships happening at the same event it’s going to be a great specticle for anyone coming along to watch”.
Nicole van der Kaay says that she is pleased with being selected after coming back from injury “I’m thrilled to be named apart of the mighty NZL team! It’s been challenging at times after injury. However, the body is much stronger and I cannot wait to get out there again and show the world what we’ve got.”
Hayden Wilde says that he is looking forward to the season ahead. “Abu Dhabi is a great location to race and as it’s the first race of the season I’m keen to see when I’m at. I had a great year last year and hoping I can back it up”.
Wilde also says “I’m always stoked to be part of the New Zealand team and I’m looking forward to flying the kiwi flag whatever my role whether it be racing or as a reserve supporting the team. It’s also been great getting extra support from the New Zealand triathlon community heading towards Tokyo 2020”.
Sophie Corbidge says she is pleased to be heading back to Abu Dhabi after some success there at last years event. “After coming home with a bronze medal in Abu Dhabi last year, I couldn’t be happier to be named in the team going back in 2020.
Corbidge also says the team and herself are in great shape heading into the first WTS event of the season. “The back half of 2019 wasn’t without it’s challenges for me, but I am really excited to be firing in all cylinders this year and ready to perform to the best of my ability. NZ has a really strong group of athletes in the High Performance system so I am confident we can come away with a great result ahead of Tokyo.”
Sam Ward says he is looking forward to returning to Abu Dhabi. “Looking forward to heading back to racing on the F1 Yas Marina track. I have good memories from last year with good races. The form is coming along strong and keen to get back into the racing season”.
Andrea Hewitt says “Abu Dhabi is a race which holds a lot of good memories for me, so I am excited to be going back”.
Ryan Sissons says that he is ready to show what he can do in Mixed Relay racing. “I’m really looking forward to the first WTS of the 2020 season. I’ve had a great summer of training so far and I’m looking to translate that into some good racing in Abu Dhabi. It’s great to be in the Mixed Relay team, New Zealand have a lot of great talent and I will have to be at my best to show what I can do it that format”.
The entertaining format of mixed relay has been included in major games programs such as the Youth Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and will make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The key Mixed Relay events for this season are Abu Dhabi on the 7th March, Chengdu Olympic Qualification on the 09th May (for teams outside the top seven ranking), Hamburg ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships on the 12th July and Tokyo Olympic Games on the 01st August.