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With several countries looking to nab points towards Olympic qualification, this weekend’s ITU Sprint Oceania Triathlon features a stacked field.
Kris Gemmell will return to top competition on Sunday for the first time since his win at the World Cup event in Auckland in November but his focus is very much on one race in April.
The New Zealand triathlete has been in a heavy training mode over the past six weeks at the Wanaka Snow Farm with the rest of the Tri NZ high performance squad as he eyes a top finish at April’s Sydney World Champs series race.
A top-eight finish there will guarantee a spot in London but, if he fails to achieve that, it will then come down to the selectors’ discretion. Andrea Hewitt is the only New Zealand triathlete guaranteed a start in London.
Before all of that Gemmell, James Elvery, Debbie Tanner, Nicky Samuels and Kate McIlroy will all compete in this weekend’s fifth round of the Contact Tri Series in Kinloch, Taupo.
A number of international competitors will also race, including Australian Chris McCormack.
The ITU Oceania sprint title and valuable ITU points are up for grabs and Gemmell is keen to be at the head of the pack in the 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.
“I have won the standard distance nationals five times but never won the sprint title at the elite level,” he said. “It is something I like doing and have spent a good part of my career doing this type of race in Europe racing in club competitions and I always enjoy Takapuna each year over a similar distance.
“But there is a big contingent of Australians coming over chasing those ITU points so it won’t be easy and the course at Kinloch is a tough one. Racing over this short distance hurts, too. There is no letting up from the gun with a nasty hill on the bike so I’ll be looking to force the issue there. My aim is to place as much pressure on the field as possible on the bike and come off with a bit of a lead and sort ourselves out over the 5km run.”
Read more: Nzherald.co.uk