Empty-handed NZ triathletes face funding cut
A heavy downpour that drenched New Zealand's triathlon relay team was a fitting backdrop for the end of a poor Commonwealth Games campaign.
New Zealand finished fifth in the mixed relay and squelched away from Strathclyde Country Park medal-less as the heavens opened.
They might also see some money washed away. Triathlon NZ now faces an anxious wait, with its annual High Performance Sport NZ funding of $1.4 million certain to come under serious scrutiny ahead of the Rio Olympics.
This was Triathlon NZ's targeted major event for the year and they received more government funding than canoeing, both hockey teams and netball.
It was bleak at the start-finish line as England, South Africa and Australia strode past to discuss their medals while the New Zealand quartet huddled under umbrellas answering media questions.
They were rightly confident after finishing second at the world championships last year.
''Generally we're a bit gutted, we really wanted to get on that podium and this is our race to do it,'' said Nicky Samuels, who swam, cycled and ran a brilliant third leg after being a late callup for Kate McIlroy.
It was the first Commonwealth Games New Zealand triathletes haven't claimed a medal in, and the glory days of Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty going one-two at the 2004 Olympics seem an age ago.
Two medals looked a fair target for the six-strong squad, particularly with Andrea Hewitt in the top echelon of women and the relay team having form on the board. Instead Hewitt's fourth was their best result.
Yesterday's relay looked good to deliver a podium before their bid was derailed when Ryan Sissons' anchor leg of the 250m swim, 6km bike and 1600m run went awry.
New Zealand sat second, just 9sec behind England's triathlon machine Alistair Brownlee, and 13sec clear of the rest, when Sissons plunged into Strathclyde Loch.
But he got caught in ''no man's land'' on the bike and eased back to join a group of South African Richard Murray, Australian Ryan Bailie and Canadian Andrew Yorke.
The quartet then eased the pressure and set up for a sprint for the minor medals.
Sissons had a poor bike-run transition and when he looked up, the other three were gone. He was soon struggling as New Zealand finished 28sec off the bronze medal spot.
''I made a silly mistake coming into transition trying to get my shoes and that cost us a few seconds. I didn't really have the legs to keep up. In this sort of racing five or 10 seconds is all it needs,'' Sissons said.
''I'm pretty disappointed and I feel like I let the team down on that last leg. It's pretty average really.''