New Zealand qualified three women for the London Olympic Games at the latest ITU World Triathlon Series race in Madrid, Spain this morning while Andrea Hewitt did enough to move up to second on the world rankings.
You needed eyes on the front, middle and rear and a calculator at hand to follow the races within the race as Germany, New Zealand and Switzerland in particular jostled for the final positions in the top 8 nation rankings, and with it three spots on the start line at the London Games in August.
With London very much her focus and with plenty of training miles in her legs, Andrea Hewitt raced steadily, picking off a number of athletes in a strong second half of the run to come home in 9th and move back to number two on the world rankings, close on the heels of Helen Jenkins (GBR). The performance from Hewitt was all the more impressive given she was affected by a pollen allergy in Madrid this morning.
But Nicky Samuels achieved the bigger goal on the day, securing a third spot for New Zealand and therefore herself in London with a mature and well paced effort, coming home 15th after also running through close to a dozen competitors in the 10km run. Samuels raced impressively throughout, emerging from the water in touch with the leaders and riding within herself on the bike, always keeping an eye on Ryf. The Wanaka athlete then moved into her work on the run, immediately moving clear of a tiring Ryf to post an impressive result in her second race back after having surgery to remove her appendix.
While Nicola Spirig (SUI) won the day from Aileen Morrison (IRE) and Barbara Riveros Diaz (CHI), the challenge from the Swiss for a top 8 position in the nation rankings never materialised with Daniela Ryf no match for the kiwis, finishing well back in the field, confirming New Zealand and Germany as the final two nations to earn the 3 spots in London.
Results: ITU World Triathlon Championship - Madrid, Spain
1 Nicola Spirig SUI 2:06:35
2 Aileen Morrison IRL 2:06:38
3 Barbara Riveros Diaz CHI 2:06:40
4 Anne Haug GER 2:06:43
5 Rachel Klamer HOL 2:07:05
6 Ainhoa Murua ESP 2:07:18
7 Vicky Holland GBR 2:07:19
8 Alexandra Razarenova RUS 2:07:32
9 Andrea Hewitt NZL 2:07:38
10 Liz Blatchford GBR 2:07:43
15 Nicky Samuels NZL 2:08:22