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Nicky Samuels starts a new phase in her triathlon career when she races in Rotorua this weekend, a phase that she hopes will end in London via a Sydney stopover along the way.
The Wanaka based triathlete lines up in the Contact Tri Series at Rotorua this Saturday but has her eyes firmly focused on peaking in Sydney in April and booking a spot at the London Olympic Games in July.
And if some other athletes are complaining about the short nature of their off-season, consider the life of a professional triathlete with Samuels having a break of just three weeks since she ended her most recent campaign in Yokohama.
"I took three weeks off post Yokohama. My body has been a bit slow to bounce back after my break and have only started back on a programme last weekend. Most athletes have decided to take their breaks after the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland World Cup race but I knew I needed mine as I was struggling to hold on to my fitness through the second half of the season, well, ever since I got the flu prior to the London World Series race I have been struggling really!
"I am not sure what my form will be like in Auckland but it is still an important race for me for to showcase myself for my NZ sponsors and supporters. It is not often we have such an event in New Zealand so it's really important to be involved there.
"I am racing Rotorua as it is a great chance to blow the cobwebs out for the start of my next phase. This phase is all about qualifying for the Olympics all my goals are heading towards April in Sydney. I have never raced in Rotorua before but have heard two key things about this race. One; it has a challenging cycle section so I am interested to give that a hard hit out and see what my legs have left in them for the run and two; the water is freezing so I will be looking to get out of the Blue Lake as quickly as possible so it should be fun!”
Samuels is also taking the chance to catch up with family around the racing.
"Rotorua also gives me a good excuse to see family and friends. My aunty lives in Tauranga so I will be happy to see her in her cheerleading outfit at the race and it means I get to spend a couple of weeks back home up north in Whangarei to see family and hang out with my niece between this Rotorua race and Auckland a fortnight later.”
The main opposition for Samuels may well come in the form of two time former champion Maddy Brunton, the Waikato athlete is on the recovery trail after a year wrecked by injury and illness and will have fond memories of a course that she won on in 2009 and 2010.
Recently crowned World Junior Women's Champion Mikayla Nielsen will line up in the sprint distance event, the first time the 17-year-old has raced since her win in Beijing.
In the men's Contact Trophy over the standard distance event, defending champion Callum Millward (Auckland) is back chasing another title after a solid season spent training in Boulder Colorado and racing longer 70.3 and half ironman distance events, his strength likely to come to the fore on the testing bike leg in particular but also on the two lap undulating bush run around Blue Lake.
The challenges are likely to come thick and fast though, with anyone of Sam Osborne (Rotorua), Brad Aldrich (Auckland) and Mark Bowstead (Glenbrook) capable of mixing it with Millward on the day.
Contact Tri Series
Saturday November 5
Racing from 8am
Online entries close midnight Thursday 3rd November at www.triseries.co.nz