Kiwi triathletes chase points in Yokohama
Andrew Hewitt, Kate McIlroy and Kris Gemmell will fly the Kiwi flag at the Yokohama round of the world triathlon series tomorrow in a last ditch attempt to earn points before the season-ending grand final in Auckland next month.
Hewitt, currently second in the championship, and McIlroy line up among a strong women's field while Gemmell is the sole New Zealander in the men's race as the Palmerston North triathlete looks to improve on his current ranking of 16.
Hewitt returns to top-level racing following a post-Olympic break and will be looking to consolidate her position and head to Auckland with a shot at becoming world champion.
She has a good record in the Japanese city, winning last year and finishing second in 2009.
Current women's series leader Erin Densham of Australia will start along with fourth-ranked Lisa Norden of Sweden, both having enjoyed stellar seasons capped by medals in London behind the Swiss star Nicola Spirig, who is not racing for the rest of the season.
McIlroy, who sits 10th in the rankings, is the only other Kiwi woman on the start line and she too has fond memories of Yokohama.
"This is my second time in Yokohama after finishing on the podium last year. I returned home from Europe three weeks ago, pleased to be back training on my usual stomping ground with home comforts,'' she said.
''The Auckland world champs is the main focus over this next block but I am keen to have a good result this weekend. The conditions here last year were very hot and humid making the run incredibly tough. Hopefully, it will be a good sharpener and confidence booster leading into the last race of the season.''
The women's race is at 11.05am tomorrow (NZT) followed by the men's race at 2pm.