The New Zealand triathlon athletes were disappointed not to win any medals in the individual events, but they made up for it today when they nailed a bronze medal in the mixed team race.
The relay race is triathlon’s equivalent of Twenty20 cricket – it’s quick-fire and every moment, especially in transition, counts. There’s a 250m swim, 7km bike ride and 1.5km run, and things happen fast. The four-strong teams run woman-man-woman-man, and the format is clearly a winner to judge by the excitement of the spectators.
It was a genuine team performance by New Zealand, who were third or thereabouts for the entire race, though they were never sure of a medal until the last minute or so.
The four New Zealanders chosen were Nicole van der Kaay, Ryan Sissons, Andrea Hewitt and Tayler Reid, and each contributed well.
Van der Kaay completed her leg in 20min 14s, behind England and Australia, level with Wales and with a 12-second margin over Canadian Joanna Brown.
Sissons maintained the pressure with an 18min 53s leg that put some distance between New Zealand and Wales.
The experienced Hewitt had the crucial third, where a race can easily be won or lost. Australia and England looked to have secured the gold and silver, and Hewitt soon became locked with Canadian Desirae Ridenour in the battle for third position. The Canadian gained about six seconds but generally Hewitt did a good job of holding on.
When Reid took over for the final leg, he had been given a five-second lead on Canada’s Matthew Sharpe.
In the individual event, Reid’s legs gave out on him in the run, but he stayed strong this time and actually completed his leg two seconds quicker than Sharpe.
So Australia won in 1h 17min 36s from England 1h 18 min 28s. New Zealand were third in 1h 19 min 28s, seven seconds ahead of Canada.
For Hewitt, 36 now, and in the twilight of a brilliant career, it was a notable triumph, after a disappointing effort in the individual race. She won a bronze medal in the Commonwealth Games triathlon way back in 2006 and there has been a world title and many other triumphs.
But today’s race figures highly in her career.
“It was tough,” she said later. “A cat and mouse game with Canada. She got me on the swim and attacked me on the bike ride and got 10 seconds on me. But I knew I’d get her on the run.”
Reid, just 21 and in his first Games, said he felt “amazing” coming down the home straight.
“To see all my family there, and our guys going crazy cheering for me. I’ll never forget it,” he said.
“The team set me up very well and made it straightforward for me. I just had to pin my ears back and go for it.
“Coming down the home straight it’s full lactate, but you’re amped up and you just have to get through it.”Glasgow 2014 Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Nicole van der Kaay Tayler Reid Ryan Sissons Andrea Hansen Triathlon