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BOP triathlete earns Olympic selection

Whakatane’s Hayden Wilde is on his way to Tokyo. File Image. Supplied.

A triathlete from Whakatane has been selected to represent New Zealand at this year’s Olympic Games.

Hayden Wilde of Eastern Bay Multisport & Triathlon Club is currently coached by Craig Kirkwood and will participate in the Men’s Individual Triathlon & Mixed Team Relay events in Tokyo.

Four stars of New Zealand’s elite triathlon team have been selected. The other athletes heading to Japan are Taupo’s Nicole van der Kaay, Women’s Individual Triathlon & Mixed Team Relay, Gisborne’s Tayler Reid, Men’s Individual Triathlon & Mixed Team Relay and Cambridge’s Ainsley Thorpe, Women’s Individual Triathlon & Mixed Team Relay.

Ranked 12th in the world, Wilde, claimed a bronze medal at the 2019 Tokyo ITU World Triathlon Olympic Qualification event and is currently in Europe competing on the World Triathlon Championship series.

He posted a fifth on the World Cup circuit in Leeds this month and third over the line in the Elite men at the European Championships in Austria and will be considered a genuine medal hopeful for New Zealand.

 “It is an absolute honour and privilege to be selected for the New Zealand Olympic team,” says Wilde.

“It has been a dream for many, many years and it is now becoming a reality. It's a satisfying feeling.”

For the first time at an Olympic Games, the athletes will compete as a team at the Mixed Team Relay, known as the MTR or MR.

Wilde and his teammates, Reid and Thorpe, were all part of the gold-winning U23 Mixed Team Relay Worlds in 2019 and will want to repeat that success in Tokyo.

This exciting new format for the world of triathlon is a thrilling four-person female and male relay race over a super sprint distance of 300m swim, 8km bike and a 2km run. The race usually lasts less than 90 minutes making for exciting viewing, with each triathlete's effort generally lasting around 20 minutes.

All four athletes will also compete individually in the respective Men’s or Women’s Olympic individual distance race, which consists of a 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run.

Tayler Reid from Gisborne and Nicole van der Kaay from Taupo, already have a Commonwealth Games bronze medal from their previous performance in the MTR event in 2018 on the Gold Coast.

Reid also won gold in the U23 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in 2018. The “Gizzy lad” is thrilled to be named on the team.

“I’ve dreamed of going to the Olympics my entire life, and I’m super excited that it is now actually happening,” he says.

“Every day it’s at the front of my mind, working to improve so I can deliver a performance to make my family, Gizzy and New Zealand proud!”

Thorpe is coming into the Games on top form, with a recent second place in U23 category at the World Triathlon Oceania’s in Port Douglas this June and fourth overall. The Oceania 2020 Sprint Champion and World Cup circuit podium winner has her eyes set on Tokyo.

“To all the people who have supported me throughout all my years of training and racing this Olympic selection is my way of paying you back, thank you.” says an excited Thorpe.

“I'm looking forward to what is going to be a very unique experience and can't wait to put on the New Zealand uniform."

Van der Kaay, who placed seventh in the individual race at the Commonwealth Games is amped to be back on the international racing circuit.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the New Zealand squad wearing the silver fern on the Olympic stage,” she says.

“It’s been a childhood dream of mine and it’s soon to come true. Let’s see what us kiwis can do.”

Thorpe, van der Kaay and Reid have been training at a Tri NZ High Performance camp on the Gold Coast, while Wilde is training in Europe. The reserve athletes are Rebecca Spence and Trent Thorpe.

Watch the racing:

Men’s Individual Triathlon race – 26th July – Race start 9:30am NZ time

Women’s Individual Triathlon race – 27th July – Race start 9:30am NZ time

Mixed Team Relay Triathlon race – 31st July – Race start 10:30am NZ time

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