2013 review: Difficult year for Kiwi triathletes

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013
Andrea Hewitt
Getty Images
STRONG SHOWING: Andrea Hewitt.

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It's been a year to forget for triathlon in New Zealand but, possibly, it's been a year with which to build onwards and upwards.

Chief executive Craig Waugh admits Triathlon New Zealand has been through major change over the last year-and-a-half with the loss of its key commercial sponsor, serious long-term financial viability problems and a changing of the guard in the men's high performance programme.

There is, however, at least some hope. Off the course, TNZ has a new commercial partner - providing an absolutely vital revenue stream which at least keeps the financial wolf from the door for the time being.

Participation numbers at a national level are rising, though there is still no clear bright new hope at the elite level in either the men's or women's side.

On the world stage, Auckland continued its re-emergence in recent years of hosting major international events and will again host a stage of the International Triathlon Union's world series in April next year.

But there's been little to cheer in terms of world results. Top athlete Andrea Hewitt had a winless year, and even fell short of an individual podium on the world circuit.

Hewitt's season was instead almost eclipsed by Kate McIlroy, who scored a fourth-place finish in the world series in Auckland and was ninth in Japan.

Ryan Sissons, who inherited the mantle of top-ranked Kiwi male, also failed to find a global podium but had an encouraging fifth-place finish in the world series in July, in Austria.

To Waugh's credit, he has recognised the challenges facing his sport and is proactively attempting to steady the ship. The question is, can he do it?

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