Andrea Hewitt wants to cap season in style

TONY SMITH
Last updated 05:00 12/10/2012
Andrea Hewitt
JASON OXENHAM/Fairfax NZ
HOT PICK: NZ's Andrea Hewitt in action.

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Andrea Hewitt says it is too early to say if she will strive for a third Olympic Games triathlon tilt in Rio but she will be racing on the world circuit for the next two years.

The 30-year-old is training at home in Christchurch for her last big race of the season, the world triathlon series grand final in Auckland on October 20.

Hewitt was sixth at the London Olympics - where she went into the race ranked No 1 in the world - after finishing eighth in Beijing in 2008.

She will be 34 in 2016 but said she did not know "at this stage" if she would be a contender at Rio de Janeiro.

"It's four years away, so I've got time to think about it.

"But definitely next year I will still be racing and probably the year after too.

"But anything can happen, there are so many variables. There are other athletes that can pop up and I [would] still have to qualify."

The Olympic race was her major assignment of 2012 but Hewitt isn't living in the past. "I was disappointed with my placing - I finished sixth - but my race was OK . . .

"Afterwards, I didn't have any parties or celebrations because I was sixth. It was all about supporting the other athletes in the New Zealand team."

While it was "still good to be No 1 going into the Olympics", she was always mindful rankings were based on performances posted over the previous two years and her premier status wasn't necessarily an advantage.

Elite triathletes generally race "every two or three weeks for five months" on the world circuit - except in Olympic years when the top contenders reduce their racing workload and focus on preparing and peaking for the Olympic race.

Hewitt took a fortnight off training after the Olympics but spent the first week soaking up the Olympic experience, "watching the mountainbiking, one night of athletics and water polo" and marching in the closing ceremony.

She returned to her training base at Sete, France, where she lives with her partner and coach Laurent Vidal, who finished fifth in the Olympic men's triathlon.

She resumed training there but skipped a world series race in Stockholm in late August because she "wasn't ready to start racing".

"I did a race in France before going to Yokohama," she said. "But I got off the plane feeling a bit sick, I must have caught something on the flight, so I didn't have the best race in Yokohama."

Hewitt has shaken off sickness as she counts down to "one last race" for the year in Auckland. Since returning to Christchurch last week, she's "just trying to recover" and "looking to taper" between the Yokohama race and the grand final.

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She has been training here with Vidal and some proteges of a Spanish coach, including Olympic men's silver medallist Javier Gomez and Chile's Barbara Riveros Diaz.

Hewitt is fourth on the world rankings list but "will wear number three" in Auckland because third-ranked Swiss star Nicola Spirig hasn't raced since winning the Olympic Games gold medal.

But the medals duel is close with Hewitt on 3141 points, one ahead of Germany's Anne Haug. Australia's Erin Densham leads the series with 3611 points, with Swede Lisa Norden second on 3581. Norden was the silver medallist at the London Olympics where Densham took bronze.

Hewitt - second overall in last year's world championship series - said "five out of the eight [world series] races, plus the finals" count for the final standings.

The Auckland course - used for the 2011 season circuit race won by Hewitt - is a testing one with three gnarly hills to be climbed on each of the eight cycling laps.

Hewitt said the run "up and down Queen St" was a "false flat" course with a three per cent gradient. The athletes run four laps and finish at the Cloud on Auckland's waterfront.

Her focus is on a podium place but, after a busy season, Hewitt is also looking forward to "having at least a month off to go on holiday".

"The first few days we are going to go up north to Opua [Bay of Islands] and then Debbie Tanner, another New Zealand triathlete, is getting married in Fiji so we're going to her wedding.

"Then we've got Laurent's brother and friends coming over from France and we're going to tour around the South Island."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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