Team triathlon only for the Brave-hearted Kiwis
MARK GEENTY IN GLASGOW
Only the fast, the furious and the flawless survive.
Forty-eight hours after slogging through the undulating Strathclyde Country Park for the Commonwealth Games individual triathlon, four New Zealanders will haul their weary bodies onto the same course for the mixed team sprint tomorrow night (11.30pm NZT), with the podium beckoning. Snooze, during the 250m swim, 6km cycle and 1600m run, and you lose.
"It's crazy; it's only 20 minutes but it's 20 minutes of red line, you're just maxed out for that whole time. You go as fast as you can and you can't make any mistakes in transition. Usually the team that makes the least mistakes ends up on the podium," said Kate Mclroy, who'll do leg three and hand over to anchorman Ryan Sissons.
Triathlon wasn't contested four years ago in Delhi and the relay will make its first Commonwealth Games appearance. With Andrea Hewitt and Tony Dodds on legs one and two, New Zealand will expect to win a medal after the same team finished second to Germany at last year's world championships, when Great Britain's Non Stanford crashed out with her team in front.
England will be hot favourites tomorrow, with Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee and Jodie Stimpson in their six-person squad, which also includes Vicky Holland and Lucy Hall. That pair were part of Great Britain's winning team at this month's world champs where New Zealand sent a B lineup.
Who recovers best from the exertions of the individual event will be a telling factor, along with how well the team gels. Nicky Samuels and Tom Davison are the New Zealand reserves in case anyone comes to grief in the individual.
"We've trained together and lived together for four or five years so we know each other really well and we know how each other works. That makes a big difference. I think we'll be really competitive," McIlroy said.
Hewitt did the opening leg when they won silver at last year's Hamburg world championships and expects the order will be unchanged again. It's her job to get the team near the front of the bunch and out of trouble.
"The main thing is to keep in touch with the leaders, to be in that front group. And you don't want to be off the front by yourself, like Great Britain have done in the past. Then it's all up to Ryan, the last leg," Hewitt said.
No pressure, Ryan. Sissons put in an impressive final leg last year and said while the heart will be thumping faster than usual, the relay was enjoyable for its unpredictability and the team aspect.
"It's pretty nerve wracking. Last year at world champs we were second or third throughout the whole race and I was last off and I was the most nervous I've ever been. You have three other people who have raced their arses off to get us in that position and I have to close it out," Sissons said.
"It is fun, it's got a different dimension and it's fast and things change the whole time which makes it interesting."