Over 700 children from as far South as Invercargill and North to Whangarei competed on a picture perfect day at the Contact National Schools Triathlon Championships at Lake Karapiro today.
Sam Ward (St Kentigern College) took out the honours in the elite U19 boy's race in a fierce battle with Troy McAlister (Central Southland College), Ward winning by 37 seconds but only after breaking away midway through the first lap on the run.
Ward raced superbly at the recent Oceania Championships in Tasmania but had to hang tough on the bike as McAlister employed pre-race tactics to try and drop his great rival.
"That was one tough race, I was only just hanging on during the bike, Troy was hammering it and I was doing all I could to stay with him. Once we got on to the run I tried to make a move reasonably early as I didn't want to get into a sprint, I managed to get a gap on him and held that until the end.
"This is my last shot at the Contact Schools Nationals, I am 17 and this is my final year so it is great to get the win. My season has gone really well with my coach Brett Reid, my aim now is the U19 elite squad so I have plenty of hard training still to do but this is great, certainly the highlight of my season by a long way."
McAlister tried all he could knowing that Ward would have the edge on the run.
"My plan was certainly to try and break Sam on the bike but I just couldn't drop him. I took the lead quickly on the run hoping I might be able to hurt him in the first kilometre, I know he has an edge on me in the run so I had to try something but Sam was the best triathlete today, well done to him."
Thomas McLaughlin (Hamilton Boys High) came home in third place.
In the women's U19 race it was Elise Salt (St Cuthbert's College) who came out on top, gradually improving throughout each leg emerging from the water in third, off the bike in second and then over the finish line in first place ahead of Steffie Holcroft (Hillcrest High School) and Emily Pearce (Kristin School).
"I guess that was kind of how I planned or expected the race to go," said Steffie. "I knew I might have to rely on my run to get to the front and that was how it happened, Stefie had a great race and I must admit I was looking over my shoulder a bit on the last part of the run.
"My goal now is to make the NZ U19 elite squad so I have some time trials and targets to meet, that will be the focus for me from now."
The result came as a nice early wedding gift for Salt's coach Scott Hotham, who ties the knot tomorrow.
U16 racing was equally intense around the Karapiro course, with a breeze making things tough on the return leg each lap on the bike course on an otherwise perfect day for racing with Alana Lythe (Westlake Girls High) and Jonty Morreau (Auckland Grammar) taking out the honours.
Titles were awarded in age groups year 7 and 8, U14, U16 and U19 and yesterday saw the inaugural National Open Water Schools Champs with close to 200 competitors, many triathletes but equally plenty of specialist swimmers making the trip.
Team racing was again hugely popular as athletes banded together under their school colours and raced to the cheers and shouts of fellow students lining the transition area and course through the tents and school 'camp sites'.
Former world number one Sam Warriner was there watching and supporting all the children, coaching and mentoring a team of 20 children from a variety of Northland Schools, some racing for the first time while some were able to secure spots on the podium.
ITU elite competitor Teresa Adam also made the trip down from Auckland to cheer the competitors on and help with the medal presentations on a great day for the schools, the participants and the many families and supporters cheering them on.
Contact National Schools Triathlon Champs
Year 7 boys 150m swim, 7km bike, 1.6km run
1 Saxon Morgan St Andrews Prep School 26:47
2 Adam Martin P North Intermediate 27:26
3 Samuel Thornbury Verdon College 28:02
Year 7 girls 150m swim, 7km bike, 1.6km run
1 Tahlia Pook Taupo Intermediate 30:41
2 Emma McLeay Southland Girls High 31:27
3 Eden Bastiaanse St Andrews Prep School 31:41
Year 8 Boys 150m swim, 7km bike, 1.6km run
1 Bradley Christison Tutira School 25:24
2 Janus Staufenberg Mt Aspiring College 25:56
3 Theo Wright Tauranga Intermediate 26:14
Year 8 Girls 150m swim, 7km bike, 1.6km run
1 Arlia Schurr Heaton Intermediate 27:01
2 Gorgi van Lienen P Nth Intermediate 28:15
3 Estafana Fowler Baradene College 28:52
U14 Boys 350m swim, 11.4km bike, 3.2km run
1 Matthew Manning St Kentigern College 39:23
2 Daniel Hoy Westlake Boys High 40:59
3 Alex Morreau Auckland Grammar 41:22
U14 Girls 350m swim, 11.4km bike, 3.2km run
1 Mikayla Harvey Saint Kentigern College 45:02
2 Emma Daniels Sacred Heart Girls 46:00
3 Ashlee Greenhalgh Huanui College 46:18
U16 Boys 500m swim, 14km bike, 4km run
1 Jonty Morreau Auckland Grammar 49:03
2 Tayler Reid Gisborne Boys High 49:28
3 Greg Moore Christchurch Boys High 50:00
U16 Girls 500m swim, 14km bike, 4km run
1 Alana Lythe Westlake Girls High 53:58
2 Nicole van der KaayTaupo Nui-a-Tia College 54:45
3 Jamiee Leader P North Girls High 54:51
U19 Boys 750m swim, 21km bike, 4.8km run
1 Sam Ward St Kentigern College 1:04:23
2 Troy McAlister Central Southland 1:05:00
3 Thomas McLaughlin Hamilton Boys High 1:06:20
U19 Girls 750m swim, 21km bike, 4.8km run
1 Elise Salt St Cuthberts College 1:13:56
2 Steffie Holcroft Hillcrest High School 1:15:52
3 Emily Pearce Kristin School 1:15:56
Full results can be found by clicking here
For further information contact:
Triathlon New Zealand