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Kiwis Kris Gemmell and Nicky Samuels flew the Kiwi flag with pride at today’s Noosa Triathlon Festival, the second biggest triathlon in the world with over 7,000 participants heading to the Sunshine Coast to take part in the 28th running of the famous event.
While the race over the standard distance does not carry the prestige or points of an ITU race, it is one that athletes from all over the world have tried to win over the years but one that has nonetheless been dominated by the Australians.
And that trend continued in the men’s race with Courtney Atkinson winning his third consecutive Noosa Triathlon with Kiwi flyer Gemmell the only one in the field able to go with the home favourite over the 10km run leg. The two quickly reeled in a group of three that had gone 30 seconds clear off the bike, a group that included sentimental favourite and former multiple winner of the race Craig Walton who recently announced his return to the sport after two years of retirement.
Atkinson’s pace over the first two kilometres of the run however proved decisive as he opened a gap of 25 seconds that Gemmell couldn’t peg back in the closing stages. Gemmell was delighted with his podium finish and form though, especially in light of a horror end to the season when he crashed out of the World Champs Finale in Budapest.
“This is what it is all about, coming to places like Noosa and racing in front of this sort of a crowd. This was my first pro race way back and it is great to come back, why wouldn’t you want to come here, it is an amazing setting.
“This feels great though to race as well as I have today, the past 7 weeks have not been great after the crash at Budapest and I have been training with some Ironman guys and doing some big mileage so I was a little surprised at how well I went today. I just didn’t have the leg speed and couldn’t stay with Atko (Atkinson) over that first couple of kilometres but I felt strong all day.”
Samuels was equally pleased with her race, finishing third behind Caroline Steffen (SUI) who raced just weeks after finishing second at the Hawaii Ironman and young Aussie Ashleigh Gentle. Samuels called Noosa a ‘start’ to her new season after taking a break and beginning training again in earnest after Budapest.
“This is a good start to the summer for me. I took a break after Budapest and have since been back into some hard work so didn’t quite have the sharpness I might usually have today. The bike took a little more out of me than I would have liked and I paid for that a little on the run but I’m happy to be on the podium for sure and this is a great place to come and race.”
For Gemmell his attention is still very much long term on the London Olympic Games as he looks to recapture his form over the New Zealand summer.
“London is the target long term but right now I can’t wait for a break before getting back into it once more. The end to this year has been pretty tough after I carried some good form early in the season and into Budapest but I haven’t lost sight of the end goal and that is London 2012.”
But for 7,000 participants, including many Kiwis (amongst them Triathlon NZ President Gary Boon), Noosa is over for another year and yet again the event and the location lived up to reputation, putting on a stunning show of weather and hospitality that will only enhance its reputation as one of the world’s must do standard distance events.
1 Courtney Atkinson AUS 1:46:54
2 Kris Gemmell NZL 1:47:06
3 Peter Kerr AUS 1:48:10
14 Michael Poole NZL 1:51:32
1 Caroline Steffen SUI 2:01:18
2 Ashleigh Gentle AUS 2:01:22
3 Nicky Samuels NZL 2:03:30