Seven top athletes were able to get a sneak peek at each other today at the official press conference going into this weekend’s BG Triathlon World Cup in New Plymouth, New Zealand. In attendance were Kris Gemmell (NZL), Lisa Norden (SWE), Brad Kahlefeldt (AUS), Samantha Warriner (NZL), Shane Reed (NZL), Andrea Hewitt (NZL), Emma Moffatt (AUS) and #1 Javier Gomez (ESP)
In his last fourteen ITU BG World Cup appearances the quietly spoken Spaniard, Gomez, has been on the podium every time and won eight of those races.
Often he has done so with his now trademark surge during the ten kilometre run leg, usually around the four or five kilometre mark. When quizzed at todays press conference previewing Sundays race, he wasnt prepared to give too much away.
I am not the only one to beat, a lot of guys are here with chances, the last fourteen races are awesome but it is always hard to win, to be on the podium. I always try to go at 4 or 5km but sometimes I change it but I feel better like that so I continue to use the tactic. But no, it all depends on how I feel on the race, I never know when I will go it all depends on if you feel strong or not, I will see on Sunday.
Gomez was in great form in victory at Mooloolaba last weekend and will have to contend with a very strong Kiwi contingent, including one very happy local boy in Shane Reed upon hearing of his Olympic selection last night.
This is the most exciting moment of my life apart from marriage and the birth of my son, I just couldnt believe it. I was doing some University work on the computer at home when I got the call, I did the thumbs up to Tammy (Wife), she danced down hallway, I then hung up and I did the same dance.
Upon revealing his candidacy for next seasons Dancing with the Stars, Reed explained the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.
It has been a long time coming. I first had the Olympics as a goal at eight years when I was swimmer. The family moved to Aussie for swimming but I have been doing triathlon now for fifteen years, this is my passion. I missed the first two Olympics but to make the third is incredible.
Reed felt for his friend and competitor Terenzo Bozzone and said he had heard from his closest rival for Beijing.
Well actually he texted me this morning and said congratulations, well catch up this weekend for a coffee and have a chat about it. It seemed like he was really happy for me which was great.
Similarly delighted was fellow Kiwi Andrea Hewitt who will also race on Sunday knowing she too has been confirmed for Beijing.
The Olympics is huge, I had the two selection races, did my best but did not make top five which would have guaranteed selection but last night I got the call to say I had been selected. I was at the airport, waiting for coach John Hellemans, it was a special evening of quiet celebration and phone calls.
Australian Emma Moffat does not have that luxury however and is taking part on Sunday knowing this is her last chance to impress Australian Olympic selectors, something that she admits can be distracting.
The Aussie team is definitely a hard team to get on; there are four going for two spots. I am in contention but you have to prove yourself, we have this race and Ishigaki to prove and show what we can do but Im not going to Ishigaki. Ive put all my eggs in this basket so I hope I go well. You have race the season with two plans, one Olympic and one non-Olympic.
Races get underway on Sunday at midday (Elite Women) and 2.30pm (Elite Men) and will bring the curtain down on a weekend full of triathlon activity as New Plymouth hosts the World Tri Festival with events kicking off today with the Weet-Bix Tryathlon for children with close to 1,000 local Taranaki children taking part at Ngamotu Beach.
Other remarks from today’s press conference:
Question to Brad Kahledfelt,
“You had a bit of a health scare early in 2008 with your lungs. Talk a bit about realizing how fragile you guys are, and how excited you must be to see your fitness and health moving in the right direction heading toward the Beijing Olympic Games.
BK: It is a huge benefit, I can plan the season around Beijing, this is the big focus for the year and New Plymouth and Mooloolaba are more or less lead up races. It is a huge advantage knowing I can totally focus on one race and not peak too many times in a season just to make the team. And it is a hard team to make, so I am happy to be in and focus on that so early.
Q: You had a health scare last year, tell us about that?
BK: I had Pneumonia in December, I was training on the Gold Coast, got sick and went downhill fast and ended up in hospital for four days. My left lung became infected and pretty much shut down leaving me operating on one lung. I am almost back to 100% now and feel fantastic. It is all positive; Im looking forward to getting out there this week and racing.
Question to Lisa Norden.
Talk about how important the confidence from your world championships 23 and under title was last year. Since then you have got a medal at Mooloolaba, been on the podium at Australian International races.
LN: Winning the World Championships was a good start, I had done a lot of work and changed coach on July 1st. Hamburg was a pointer that I am going in the right direction with the new coach and new training. Last six months I have spent on the Gold Coast, I have no injuries and my training is going really well. The World Championships also helped me believe in myself to come out and race with big girls at World Cup!
Q: “Triathlon is a sport where many athletes have to travel away from family and friends. As Sweden’s first athlete to win a medal in a world cup, talk about some of the challenges of having to live so far away from family and friends to get the coaching and racing you require.
LN: This is great, before I had to make my own way, pay for it all, there was no support. When you are up against Aussies or Kiwis they have staff and supporters and funding, so it is nice to be on same level as them. The support is enormous with coaches, bike mechanic, physio, and the benefit of team is that you can help each other. It is great also learning about them and their cultures.
Question to Sam Warriner.
“At 37 years of age, you are carrying the flag for mature athletes in all sports. Do you feel any extra sense of urgency knowing that unlike Andrea Hewitt this is likely your last chance at such a major competition?”
SW: First of all it is no barrier, I am going into the Olympics in best shape I can be. My experience in Athens has shown me what a great event it is but it was my first time and got caught up in the excitement and was exhausted for the race. Going back with that experience I have high hopes. I didnt perform at Athens but I know why nad I am in better shape. The advantage of knowing since September has been great too, all my eggs are in one basket this year, but I am very much looking forward to racing this year in New Pymouth, I havent tapered at all for this but did enjoy a day off this week which was something different!
Q: “Kiwi athletes have to be all over the world racing, training and a long way from home and friends/family. Talk about the 1-2 things you have done in the last few months to provide you the extra energy - motivation you will need on the final haul to Beijing.
SW: I am away all the time, even this year to make changes to be the best I can be I have been living in Auckland and not at home in Whangarei. My whole year is out of a suitcase, unpacking bike etc. It is hard. I miss great friends at home, I have friends in Auckland but it is not the same. This year my partner is going with me, which is a big help with things like airports and the little things that can go wrong. It is hard, packing and unpacking but end of the day this is the dream, being an older athlete I think I value it all the more; this is what I dreamed about as a youngster so this is what it is all about. I am living the dream.
BS: Question to Javier.
Have you and your coach done any special preparations for the incredible media/sponsor attention that you are going to be getting as you get closer to Beijing Olympics?” As one of Spain’s highly assured medalists their will be higher expectations from the Spanish media/Olympic committee?
JG: A lot of pressure before Olympics but this is the main goal for the season, I dont care about pressure, I just train and race well and do my best. Now training is going well, last weekend I won in Australia that just means that training is going well, keep working and do my best at the Olympics. I dont care about pressure, just train well and look forward to the race.
Question for Emma Moffat,
How much is it watching the race and those around you or specifically the other Aussies?
EM: You shouldnt be looking at others at all really, it is about your race but you do to see how they are going. You are racing them for the spots but the higher up you finish the better so it is just as much about the whole race.
Question to Kris Gemmell,
Kris, you have been on the record as saying money not important, medals and titles are what you are chasing. This year there will be no World Championships, no Des Moines, tell us about this approach?
KG: First hi Barrie and hi to all the athletes up here, it is great to be back on tour. The Olympic dream is something I have worked on for the last 3 years after going into Athens training with Hamish and Bevan I realized that one race can make a career, especially in NZ as we love our Olympic athletes. I decided a long time ago to focus on the Olympics, first I had to get in team, I managed that and now I try to peak for certain races. I am looking forward to preparing for Beijing.
Q: What about any advice to a young athlete like Terenzo Bozzone after missing selection?
KG: I missed out on Athens, but it was not the end of my Olympic dream. I went through the process of building up with Bevan and Hamish and almost felt like I was part of it, right up to being in the commentary team for the race, I was almost there but not there so in a way I feel like I have been through that before so it is not scary this time to be going as an athlete. Terenzo is young with world at his feet, his time will come, selection criteria was put down and neither athlete could qualify at Mooloolaba which was disappointing but the selectors have chosen Shane and he will be a great member of the team, we look forward to Beijing with a strong team.
Question for Shane and Andrea:
How tough is it going to be now you have made the Olympic squad to focus on the race on Sunday
AH: Im still sore from last week but I will do my best to race well on Sunday.
SR: For me it is a big relief, this whole week has been stressful waiting for the phone call and not knowing where my career was going, I though about retirning if I didnt get in the team, it was just a though though. But since I got up this morning Ive had so many calls and text messages from friends in New Plymouth. I went to University this morning and was congratulated by everyone, everyone in town knows about it and supports me, I think it is great.
Question to Shane about the Course?
SR: I have raced it a few times before, I think it is a good course, a fast course, not as hilly as Moolooaba and should be an interesting race, especially as Javier is going so fast. The swim will be interesting too with a few currents out there and the visibility is not so good so the pack can be split up a lot. You saw a couple of years ago Andy Potts got away on the swim and you can see that happening, I think it will be an interesting race.
Question for Kris Gemmell on not racing in Mooloolaba and why is racing at home important?
KG: it is more I was trying to stay away from all the stuff over there. I sat down a year ago to plan my year and Mooloolaba didnt fit in unfortunately with the way my races were falling in. Obviously this is a home race and I love to perform well at home, I have friends family and sponsors staying here over the weekend. You know I want to give myself the best opportunity to race well and probably where I am at in terms of training, this will give me the best chance here so I sat out Mooloolaba and watched them dish it out to themselves so hopefully Javier and Shane might be a bit tired on Sunday!
Question for Javier Gomez, will he apply the same tactics on Sunday, can he tell his opponents when he will surge?
JG: Well let me think about it But no, it all depends on how I feel on the race, I never know when I will go it all depends on if you feel strong or not, I will see on Sunday.
Question for Shane Reed, the Beijing decision is now out of the way, will you be more relaxed on Sunday?
SR: I think I will be a lot more relaxed on Sunday, I am a little sore from last week when I crashed quite heavily so it will be an interesting race for me. I feel a lot more relaxed and hopefully it will be another step on the way to Beijing.
Question to Shane Reed on how important it is to try and win your home triathlon?
SR: In front of a home crowd it is going to be great, Im sure the crowed will push me along so it is quite important to me. I think in the first year I was 15th, last year I was 9th so I would like to get closer to the podium this year, that would be nice.
Question for Sam Warriner on her expectations this weekend?
SW: I really have no expectations, I know I hve been training hard, I am still in the base phase and I have another month of that to go. Wednesday I had the day off which is a luxury, I am quite stoked about that but I am really going out to enjoy it. I wouldnt miss racing in New Zealand for the world as it is our home country. We go around the world so it is really nice to see everyone supporting you in person. I would like a good swim as I have been working hard on my swimming, the way the chop looks at the moment it could be a difficult swim but otherwise no expectations. I have been training well, had no interruptions and just looking forward to a good race and enjoying it.
Related Event: 2008 New Plymouth BG Triathlon World Cup
|Results: Elite Women|
|Results: Elite Men|
|1.||Javier Gomez Noya||ESP||01:47:33|