Tourist triathlete bashed on street

LEIGHTON KEITH
Last updated 05:00 28/03/2014
Russian triathlete Ivan Kalashnikov
ANDY JACKSON/Fairfax NZ
THANK YOU: Russian triathlete Ivan Kalashnikov is grateful to the people who came to his aid after he was attacked while out on a training ride in New Plymouth.

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A Russian triathlete has been left battered and bruised after being attacked while out on a training ride in New Plymouth.

Ivan Kalashnikov was cycling up Coronation Ave, near New Plymouth Boys' High School, about 3.20pm on Wednesday when a car load of men began abusing him.

"I'm scared because I don't want it," he told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday.

"It scared me and I felt worried because I didn't know why they were doing it."

Kalashnikov, who took part in the weekend's ITU world cup sprint race, said the car then nudged close to him and he reached out to put his hand on it.

"After I touched the car, one guy jumped out of the car and pushed me on the road and made me fall, he then kicked and punched me in the head."

The 23-year-old had four teeth knocked out in the attack and suffered cuts to the inside of his mouth, which required stitches, and a grazed chin. His cycle helmet was also broken.

He spent three hours at the police station, and yesterday visited a doctor and dentist.

Despite his ordeal Kalashnikov, who is from Yaroslavl, 250 kilometres from Moscow, had not been put off returning to New Plymouth.

"It's a beautiful city. I would like to come back, I want to.

"In Russia we have the same sort of people, every city has the same sort of people."

He was grateful to the people who came to his aid and stopped the assault, and said it showed there were still a lot of good people in New Plymouth.

"Thank you for the help to the three people who came in."

Kalashnikov, who has been doing triathlons for 15 years, finished 36th in Sunday's race.

He said the course was challenging and the event had been well organised, and he hoped to return again next year.

Kalashnikov returns to Russia next week and says he still plans to compete in another ITU event in Turkey in May.

Alan Barraclough, owner of the Sunflower Lodge and Backpackers where Kalashnikov was staying, said he found the attack distressing.

"It's not the image that we want people to have of our city," Mr Barraclough said.

Police have arrested a 17-year-old New Plymouth youth in connection with the attack.

He appeared in the New Plymouth District Court yesterday, charged with injuring with intent to injure, and was remanded on bail, with a 24-hour curfew, to reappear on April 17.

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