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Taranaki Prepares For World Tri Festival

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

2 April 2008 - Taranaki is gearing up for an invasion of a nice kind as triathletes from all corners of the world and the country descend upon New Plymouth for the World Tri Festival starting on Friday, incorporating the ITU BG World Cup race on Sunday.

Tri NZ CEO Dave Beeche said the weekend of activity is a celebration of all that is good in the sport with something for everyone.

"From Friday New Plymouth will be a buzz with activity and events to suit everyone willing to 'give it a go'. Appropriately we will start with the children in the latest round in the Weet-Bix Tryathlon on Friday then progress to the beginner and standard distance age group races on the Saturday before ending with the elites in the BG World Cup races on Sunday.

"Increasingly we are seeing New Zealanders of all backgrounds and abilities coming to or returning to the sport, each with their own objectives and goals. While the elite athletes are the highlight of the weekend and the main focus for media, the team at Tri NZ is equally concerned with delivering a quality experience in the other events, the entire weekend will be a lot of fun."

Former Kiwi League legend Howie Tamati is one of those taking part in the sport for the first time and while he might be a bit worried about the odd knee pain here or there, he is looking forward to the beginner's triathlon immensely.

"I can't wait for the race to come around on Saturday now, although I am a little nervous as this is my first event and not so long ago I couldn't even swim a few lengths in the pool.

"The key though is I am getting fit and enjoying the benefits in my everyday life. A fit body leads to a fit mind with less sickness, tiredness and overall greater energy levels. This World Tri Festival offers events for all of us to have a go at, I don't care what your background, age or level of fitness, and we should all be taking part and then watching the very best in the world race on the Sunday.

"The event might have challenged me but in turn I guess I am challenging every other person in our region to take part. If I can, there is no reason why everyone else can't make the same commitment."

Elite athletes are starting to arrive with New Zealanders at or near the top of the billing in Sunday's elite World Cup races. Sam Warriner and Andrea Hewitt will be amongst those to contend in the women's race with strong opposition from 2007 world number two Emma Moffat (AUS) and rising star and World U23 Champion Lisa Norden (SWE).

Vanessa Fernandez (POR) and Annabel Luxford (AUS) are late withdrawals from the event, opening the door further for the likes of the leading Kiwis or Oceania Champion Moffat to pick up a World Cup win.

In the men's race all eyes will be on world number one Javier Gomez after he began his season with a second place at Mooloolaba last weekend. It will be the first visit to New Plymouth for the Spaniard but his second to New Zealand after winning the U23 World Championships in Queenstown in 2004.

Kiwis Bevan Docherty and Kris Gemmell will be amongst the challengers to Gomez while Terenzo Bozzone will be looking for an improved showing after his 14th place at Mooloolaba last weekend.

So to will Shane Reed who will almost certainly race on his 'home track' for the final time. The 34 year old has indicated that regardless of selection for the Beijing Olympic Games team, 2008 is a year in which he is winding down his 15 year career at the top.

News of the final selections for Beijing are expected at some stage this week but no time has yet been confirmed for this announcement.

The true global nature of the sport is reflected in the stunning statistic that sees in excess of 30 countries represented on the start line. From Israel to Costa Rica to Kazakstan to Finland to Mexico to Zimbabwe, to Syria and everywhere in between, triathletes and their supporters are descending on New Plymouth this weekend.

Complete start lists can be viewed at www.triathlon.org with further information on the World Tri Festival activities and races at www.triathlon.org.nz.

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