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New Zealand’s Olympic Triathlon team members are all taking an ‘under the radar’ approach ahead of their races in London.
Bevan Docherty, Ryan Sissons, Kate McIlroy and Nicky Samuels are now completing their final preparations in Oxford, one hour North West of central London.
The other two members of the New Zealand Olympic team will make late arrivals from France into London, with Andrea Hewitt coming from her training base in Sete and Kris Gemmell from altitude at Font Romeu.
Being based away from the Olympic frenzy has been crucial for the Kiwi team and has allowed them to remain consistent with their usual training regimes without any added stress or pressure.
They will join the other Kiwis in the Olympic Village, but not until after their races with the women’s triathlon this Saturday (7:55pm NZT) and the men’s event on Tuesday (10:25pm NZT).
National Coach Greg Fraine said setting up base in Oxford has been a terrific move, with perfect infrastructure around them and locals more than willing to help.
“We know the area here really well and the town of Oxford has gone out of its way to give us anything we’ve needed. The training is very similar to home actually, the roads are much like the Waikato or Canterbury and Nelson areas. The trails around here are great and we’ve been able to do some speed work on quite good surfaces,” Fraine said.
“All the Kiwis are exactly on track, it’s fantastic to see it all coming together. They’re all a bit anxious about what’s happening in the next few days but anticipation wise they’re looking forward to it. I’d be disappointed if they weren’t nervous to be honest.”
Having travelled to Oxford straight after the Hamburg round of the ITU World Triathlon Series, and with their race an extra three days after the women’s race, Bevan Docherty and Ryan Sissons also marched at the opening ceremony.
Docherty, who already has an Olympic silver (Athens) and bronze medal (Beijing) under his belt, is taking a very different approach this time around in London. It’s all about taking in the moment and having fun as he aims to complete his set with a gold medal.
“I’m pretty happy with how the training is going and I’ve really come into some great shape at the right time. I like to think I’m a lot more relaxed this time around. Obviously with my results the last couple of years and with this course there’s not too much expectation on me. I wanted to come in as a bit of an underdog and just enjoy this campaign,” he said.
At his first Olympic Games, Sissons has enjoyed some good training in Oxford and is trying to avoid nerves and stick to his plan.
“I’m fairly calm and relaxed, I think that’s naturally how I am before races. It’s a big deal and there’s a lot of pressure on I suppose, but at the end of the day it’s just another triathlon. It’s the most important one I’ve done in my life but I just need to focus on what I can control,” Sissons said.
“I think I can go under the radar a bit. I’ve had a bit of misfortune in a few races this season and people haven’t really seen what kind of form I’m in and I suppose that’s a good thing. I know what I can do when I get everything right, and if I do that in London hopefully there will be a few surprised faces.”
Kate McIlroy of Wellington and Wanaka’s Nicky Samuels have relished the slight disengagement Oxford has provided, however they are both well and truly feeling the Olympic spirit.
“It’s nice to be here an hour away from London, which allows you to feel the Olympic vibe but still remain focussed. At the moment the Olympic atmosphere is the last thing you think about but just hearing how many people were out there cheering athletes on at a couple of events, they said it was so amazing and it lifted them. It’s not something you can take in until you’re out there but I’m sure there will be plenty of moments to enjoy,” McIlroy said.
Samuels is taking comfort in keeping her preparations exactly the same as she would for any other ITU race.
“It’s a bit quieter than London here and the roads are rideable - it’s a pleasant change. We’ve got a similar team that we’d have for world champs and the same people we always have around. Everything is building up to Saturday so you just take it all in and you have to have fun. After the race we’ll get amongst it and it will all sink in.”
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