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Top triathletes set for 2007 season

Thursday 22 March 2007, 11:18AM
By Fraser Mills
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New Zealand’s top performing triathletes were celebrated last night, at a dinner held at Auckland’s Novotel Ellerslie Hotel.

The evening, held by New Zealand’s governing body for triathlon - Triathlon New Zealand, recognised those athletes who achieved a podium finish in a 2006 International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Cup race, including Bevan Docherty, Kris Gemmell, Samantha Warriner, Debbie Tanner, Andrea Hewitt, and Nicky Samuels, the recently retired Hamish Carter, and current New Zealand Ironman champions Cameron Brown and Joanna Lawn.

The evening also saw Hamish Carter awarded the first ever Triathlon New Zealand Excellence Award, which recognises significant achievement at the top level of the sport, and contribution to the development of triathlon in New Zealand.

Triathlon New Zealand High Performance Director Stephen Farrell said the celebration comes just as many of the athletes are departing for the start of the 2007 International Triathlon Union World Cup series, which kicks off in Mooloolaba this Sunday [25 March].

“Along with the ITU Beijing World Cup race on 16 September, Mooloolaba is one of the key dates on the calendar for anyone hoping to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics - this year’s Beijing World Cup and next year’s Mooloolaba World Cup have been identified as Olympic selection races by Triathlon New Zealand,” Farrell said.

“There are just three spots available to New Zealand in both the men’s and women’s fields so top performances at these key races are crucial for Olympic hopefuls.”

Farrell said each of the 2007 World Cup races is also critical, as athletes earn points at each race that allow them to qualify for the Hamburg ITU BG World Championships in August.

“There are only six spots in both the men’s and women’s fields available for the World Championships, and we’re governed by strict criteria that determines how many athletes and who we select for the race and for the 2008 Olympics,” Farrell said.

“With our recent record at World Cup races, World Championships and Olympic and Commonwealth Games, there’s some intense competition for places at these events.”

Farrell said highlights of the 2006 competitive season included a Commonwealth Games silver medal for Bevan Docherty and silver and bronze medals respectively for Samantha Warriner and Andrea Hewitt, as well as Hamish Carter’s silver medal at the ITU World Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland.

On the Ironman front, top performances included Cameron Brown’s win at Ironman Germany, and Joanna Lawn’s victory at Quelle Challenge Roth, in Germany.

“Triathlon is one of New Zealand’s top performing international sports, and we’re aiming for some great results again this year.”