20 Feb, 2019 9:01am 

 By: Triathlon NZ

The New Zealand team for the first Triathlon Mixed Relay World Series event of the season in Abu Dhabi on 9th March has been named with six athletes making up the squad. 

Nicole van der Kaay, Ainsley Thorpe, Sophie Corbidge, Tayler Reid, Sam Ward and Hayden Wilde have been selected. 

Chief Executive of Triathlon New Zealand Claire Beard says that selection was based on a number of factors including a mixed relay time-trial event in Kinloch prior to the National Sprint Distance Triathlon Championships and that other factors included results from last year, the current health and fitness of the athletes as well as eligibility. 

“Six athletes are needed to give us the best chance of success with many factors to consider including injury cover, recovery from the individual race, the conditions and the course.” 

Beard went on to say that all the athletes named in the squad will travel to Abu Dhabi with the four athletes racing told the day before the event along with the race order. 

“We saw some great results last year including the third place in the Mixed Relay in the Commonwealth Games and there are some really good signs that there is young talent coming through particularly in the short form of the sport.” 

Tayler Reid who is the current U23 World Champion is pleased to be part of the squad “Im stoked to have been selected for the initial Abu Dhabi Relay team. This fast and furious event is my favourite style of racing.” 

Nicole van der Kaay says that she is also pleased with being selected “Im super excited to be named. I love representing New Zealand and it makes it that much more special being able to race as a part of a team.” 

Sophie Corbidge says she is pleased to be back performing well after recent setbacks “I am delighted to be travelling to Abu Dhabi for the first World Series mixed relay after a rough few years of injury and frustration. It will be great to line up with my fellow kiwi teammates, showing the world what we are made of.” 

Corbidge also says it was great to get to race the Time Trial event in New Zealand “Racing at home in Kinloch is always a bit special. I have many fond memories of the place, and was stoked with my performance.” 

Sam Ward says he is also looking forward to kicking the season off with Abu Dhabi WTS and mixed relay. “The NZ squad has put in some hard hours over the past few months and the adaptations are starting to show. We have a strong team going to Abu Dhabi for the mixed relay and Im pretty excited to get back to some intense racing with the worlds best.” 

The entertaining format of mixed relay has been included in major games programs such as the Youth Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games and will make its Olympic debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games. 

The Triathlon Mixed Relay World Series events for this season are Abu Dhabi on the 9th March, Nottingham on the 15th June and Hamburg on the 7th July 

Athlete Information 

Nicole van der Kay 

Nicole was attracted to triathlon for its variety and capacity to absorb her boundless energy. 

Last year saw Nicoles best results include a fourth place finish in the ITU Triathlon Grand Final Gold Coast and podiums at various other ITU events. 

From Taupo, van der Kaay is currently studying towards a BSc in Psychology. 

Ainsley Thorpe 

Ainsley Thorpe comes from a strong sporting family and is from Auckland but is currently based in Cambridge. Ainsley had her first World Cup Race in 2018 and has been a key part of New Zealands success in the mixed relay format. 

Sophie Corbidge 

Sophie lives and trains in Cambridge and comes from an 800m athletics background, so thrives in short-distance events like the mixed team relay 

Sophie is also studying a Post Grad Diploma of Teaching at Waikato University and works in social media. 

Tayler Reid 

Tayler is the current U23 World Triathlon Champion having taken out the title at the 2018 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on the Gold Coast. Tayler is originally from Gisborne but currently resides in Cambridge with the High Performance Team. Tayler is also doing his Business Degree via Massey University. 

Sam Ward 

Sam is the 2019 NZ Triathlon Champion and currently ranked 12th in the world. Sam grew up in a family that has always had a passion for endurance sport. He has been living and training in Cambridge with the NZ team for the last 4 years. 

Hayden Wilde 

Hayden comes from a long distance off road background and has raced the Coast to Coast, Xterra and has been the ITU Cross Tri U23 World Champion. Hayden is originally from Whakatane but currently trains in Tauranga. He made the change to ITU triathlon to chase his dreams to compete at the Olympic Games. In 2 years he has dropped his world ranking into the top 60 and races on the Super League circuit currently sitting in 5th overall. 

– This story has been automatically published using a media release from Triathlon New Zealand