Triathlon NZ name only three in elite squad

Last updated 15:14 25/01/2013
Andrea Hewitt
IAIN McGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
PROMISING START: Andrea Hewitt finished fourth at the ITU World Cup event on the Sunshine Coast.

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Triathlon New Zealand has named a small elite squad for 2013 as it attempts to rebuild it's high performance programme.

In the wake of a disappointing Olympic campaign in London last year, where sixth-placed Andrea Hewitt was the top New Zealander, and the retirement of top male duo Bevan Docherty and Kris Gemmell, only three athletes have been declared in the organisation's 'podium' tier.

Hewitt is joined by Kate McIlroy, who was 10th in London, with Ryan Sissons the only male in the group.

Sissons was 33rd in London and has a way to go in order to pick up the mantle of his predecessors, particularly double Olympic medallist Docherty and 2004 Olympic champion Hamish Carter.

Below the podium trio sit six athletes in a lesser 'podium development' group, comprised of Simone Ackermann, Bryce McMaster, Sophie Corbidge,  Rebecca Kingsford, Mikayla Nielsen and Tony Dodds.

A further five athletes fill a third-tier group. They are Maddie Dillon, Elise Salt, Sam Ward, Aaron Barclay and Andrew Ranford.

A total of 14 athletes are in the system headed by new high performance director Graeme Maw.

That is a significant reduced from 21 previously as Maw attempts to rebuild triathlon with a view to the next two Olympic cycles.

Maw says the changes were clearly signposted after an independent review into triathlon's elite programme. 

"The Review highlighted that the way forward was by way of a narrow based pathway with higher world-class standards, using an evidence-based high performance selection process for more effective investment, this squad selection is in line with that conclusion," Maw said.

"While this has made for a number of tough calls, the athletes that have been selected will have clarity around their performance goals and targets and expectations. 

"I am excited about the 14 athletes named today, they are our focus, this is where our attention will lie and they will be given every opportunity to fulfil their potential within clear guidelines and expectations.

"The focus is very much on medal potential in 2016 and 2020, meaning we must support those athletes progressing towards the podium, and we must ensure development athletes track quickly along the athlete pathway."

Maw says a fundamental change is the need to improve talent identification.

Nicky Samuels is a notable omission from the entire high performance set-up - strongly suggesting her Olympic-distance multisport career is over.

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Samuels was 35th at London 2012.

- Fairfax Media

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