By Brian Mahony on 13/05/11 at 10:47 pm
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Promo for the 2011 event
New Zealand, as it has in many other sports, have traditionally punched above their weight in triathlon for a country of its size and population. The island nation have a unique place in triathlon history with Erin Baker taking the first ever ITU Triathlon World Championships in Avignon, France in 1989. Of course we all know about the heroics of Messrs Carter and Docherty in Athens 2004, where they claimed gold and silver respectively. Bevan Docherty proved that he is a man for the big occasion, by taking the Olympic bronze in Beijing 2008 also. No doubt he’ll be looking to complete the collection in London 2012. The Beijing race also demonstrated New Zealand’s commitment to team tactics and national strategy, with Shane Reed clearly playing a vital role in working on the swim and bike for the New Zealand team that day, ensuring a medal for the “land of the long white cloud”. We caught up with National Coach, Greg Fraine to get his thoughts on this year’s ITU Team Triathlon World Championships.
Did you know the format of team triathlon is?
1st Woman: swim, bike, run
2nd Man: swim, bike, run
3rd Woman: swim, bike, run
4th Man: swim, bike, run
Distances:275m swim, 6km bike, 1.5km run
ITU: How important are the Team Triathlon World Championships for New Zealand this year?
Greg Fraine: The team champs is very important to both Triathlon NZ and the athletes. The style of racing brings the best out of individual athletes and they find the race very exciting as do the public. An additional event in the Olympics is an exciting prospect that Triathlon NZ supports 100%.
ITU: The Swiss team has won the Team Championships for the last two years, why do you think the Swiss team perform so well?
GF: The Swiss have a very balanced team with a good mix of talent. I feel their winning platform is set by their consistent performance once they had a gap, and their enthusiasm to excel as a group allowed them to race a level higher than most
ITU: What level of team do you expect at the team championships this year?
GF: We expect to have a team on the start line that will be in a position to challenge for a podium. We will also look to have a second team if allowed. [Editor’s note: Multiple entries may be limited due to possible space restrictions in transition area - this will be decided 30 days out when the final number of entries are confirmed]
Quick facts on New Zealand Triathlon
Total World Champions: 6
Elite World Championship Medals: 12
U23 World Championship Medals: 3
Junior World Championship Medals: 8
ITU: Explain the major mental and physical differences for athletes competing in a team event, as opposed to an individual event.
GF: Mentally there is pressure to perform at your best so as not to let the rest of the team down, physically the intensity is very high due the short distances and the team pressure to maintain contact with other nations or the group.
ITU: What are your opinions on the Lausanne course for the race?
GF: It’s a great course and very tough, the course gives all a chance, if there is a gap gained on another team, the bike can allow that gap to be maintained. Obviously a beautiful setting helps too.
ITU: When selecting a team, what factors do you consider?
GF: Ability, team work, and the dynamics they bring to a team make up. There needs to be a race plan and teams may be selected on their fit to that plan.
ITU: What would you think about team triathlon as an Olympic sport?
GF:Great idea . Spectator wise it is exciting and national pride always allows a nation to get in behind a team over an individual.
ITU: Who do you see as the key contenders for the world title?
GF: Switzerland, Australia and Great Britain are the real strong nations.
ITU: One word to describe team racing?
Greg Fraine: “Enthralling”
ITU: Outside of triathlon, what are your favourite sports teams?
GF: Rugby [Editor’s note: New Zealand will host the Rugby World Cup around the same time as the Auckland ITU Triathlon World Cup.]
ITU: If you could make your dream team, from all nations, of athletes currently racing what would it be?
GF: Spirig, Gomez, Jonathan Brownlee, Hewitt.
ITU: If you could make an ideal team of all athletes who ever raced, what would it be?
GF: Erin Baker, Hamish Carter, Emma Carney, Gomez
Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty made 2004 an historic year for Olympic Sport in New Zealand.
Find more details about this event - 2011 Lausanne ITU Triathlon Mixed Relay World Championships