Andrea Hewitt fades late, sixth in triathlon

JONATHAN MILLMOW IN LONDON
Last updated 23:10 04/08/2012
Andrea Hewitt
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
TOP-SIX: New Zealand's Andrea Hewitt strides down the finishing chute for a sixth placing in the women's triathlon.

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Andrea Hewitt was run off her feet in the Olympic triathlon and says sixth was probably her rightful spot.

Viewed as potential medallist, Hewitt was in touch with two laps of the run remaining but when the pace went on she dropped off to finish 48 seconds behind Switzerland's Nicola Spirig.

 The day was not a complete disaster for the Kiwis with Wellington's Kate McIlroy finishing 10th. However, Nicky Samuels was a disappointing 35th in the 56 strong field after a poor swim effectively took her out of the race.

The Hyde Park triathlon course was certainly spectator friendly but it was far too friendly for Hewitt and played into the hands of the strong runners.

"On a flat course and the way they were running, that was my place to come," a resigned Hewitt said.

"I am happy that I was up there and I gave it my best shot.

"I didn't have a good swim but I came out in that chase group and managed to get to the front group so it was perfect scenario for the run."

With two laps to go (5km) Hewitt was in the lead breakaway of five which included Spirig, Erin Densham (Australia) , Helen  Jenkins (Great Britain) and Lisa Norden (Sweden).

Hewitt hadn't spent a penny all race and looked to be running comfortably at the back of the group but a pace spurt early on the third race put paid to her chances.

She lost ground over the final two laps but the 30 year-old Christchurch athlete still managed to wave to the packed grandstand as she came down the finish chute.

"I had energy  on the first two laps, but just lost it in the third lap when I couldn't go with them," Hewitt said.

"I didn't expect they would switch so many times on the run, they were taking turns."

McIlroy had a bloodied lip after what she described as a "physical swim".  She was the prominent in the 22 strong lead cycle group that did seven laps of a course around Hyde Park corner, down Constitution Hill and past Buckingham Palace.

However, she had a setback at the final transition when the tongue of her running shoe got twisted and she lost 8 seconds on the lead out runners. She ran solidly and was New Zealand's success story of the race, finishing 1min 40sec behind Spirig.

"I didn't have a good transition, but I built into it and I had the best race I could so I'm happy with it," McIlroy said.

"It's not a medal but it's OK.  You want to medal but I'm happy. I definitely wanted  top 10 and if I was outside that I would've been disappointed."

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The finish came down to a sprint between Spirig and Norden with the Swiss athlete winning by a fingernail. Third was Densham.

There was disappointment for the parochial crowd when hot favourite Jenkins failed to medal. Jenkins looked comfortable but dropped away in the last kilometre.

 

- Fairfax Media, AP

- Fairfax Media

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