25 Jan 2013

Narrower Tri NZ focus could spell end for Samuels, Ellice

5:01 pm on 25 January 2013

Triathlon New Zealand has named a three-tiered elite athletes group, aimed at giving its top competitors the best chance of medals at the next two Olympics.

And there's no room for Nicky Samuels or Clark Ellice.

Andrea Hewitt, Kate McIlroy and Ryan Sissons make up the top tier, meaning they're being targeted for medals at the Brazil 2016 Games. Samuels and Ellice's results don't appear up to scratch in the new regime.

A group of six athletes are in the "Podium Development" tier looking ahead to the 2020 Games, which includes well-known Wanaka local Tony Dodds and Waikato's former world under-19 champion Mikayla Nielsen.

There's a third group, made up of another five purely development athletes.

But Triathlon NZ's new High Performance Director Graeme Maw denies the narrowing of focus from 21 to 14 elite athletes means the end of Ellice's and Samuels' triathlon careers.

The new appointment, who comes from a strong career in world leaders Britain, says both can still break back into the top group, though Maw admits it'll be harder without the financial and other support of the national body.

The 2012 independent review into the High Performance Programme clearly highlighted that the way forward was by a narrow-based pathway with higher world class standards, using an evidence-based high performance selection process for more effective investment - which has meant a number of tough calls.

Maw says that a fundamental is the need for improved and better resourced talent identification, to in effect create a larger pool outside the 14 named athletes or add to that pool.

The athletes, contracted through until the end of the 2013 World Triathlon Series Grand Final in London in September, are:

Podium: Andrea Hewitt, Christchurch; Kate McIlroy, Wellington; Ryan Sissons, Auckland

Podium Development: Simone Ackermann, Whangarei; Sophie Corbidge, Auckland; Rebecca Kingsford, Tirau; Mikayla Nielsen, Waikato: Tony Dodds, Wanaka; Bryce McMaster, Auckland

Development: Maddie Dillon, Auckland; Elise Salt, Auckland; Sam Ward, Auckland; Aaron Barclay, Gore; Andrew Ranford, Auckland