27 May 2009


Huge congratulations are in order for New Zealand triathletes Kate McIlroy and Callum Millward after they posted wins at yesterday's Austin Triathlon, which served as an event in the Pan-American Cup.

McIlroy, who is now in her third or fourth sport (remind you of anyone...) initially represented our country as a 2000m steeplechaser. She competed and placed 5th at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, which was a stellar effort for the former mountain/cross country runner. There was light scandal in the track and field arena as she was in a relationship with High Performance Manager, Eric Hollingsworth (who was a bit of a twat to be honest), but nothing too serious, and it wasn't long before McIlroy made a departure from the sport anyway, due to persistent injuries and probably the fact that she was never realistically going to win a major championship while the Kenyans were around.

The next I heard, she was trialling for a spot in the women's track cycling team, along with one of my personal favourites, Vanessa Quin, and some other girls. The spot eventually went to my homeslice Jaime Neilsen, who went on to medal this year at Worlds with the team. Yeehaw.

McIlroy then posted some not-too-shabby results in the Wellington Open Water Swim series, and it seemed natural then she she descend upon our sport of triathlon. And, evidently, she's not doing too badly for herself. Interestingly, the second-placegetter in the Texas race was the delightful Hayley Peirsol.

In 2003 Peirsol won a silver in the 1500m Freestyle event at Worlds in Barcelona. Her brother is none other than the ever-dominant backstroke prodigy, Aaron. You may remember him being disqualified from the 200m backstroke final at the Olympics in Athens, then subsequently being reinstated (apparently, the official who DQ'd him had no basis for doing so, other than his being American. Lovely).

In Texas yesterday, Peirsol was first out of the water in a snappy 17 minutes flat. She was 1:06 up on the next athlete, Jennifer Spieldenner, and went on to post a similarly quick 1:01.32 for the 40km bike. That's fast kids. I'd be very interested to see the profile of the course. McIlroy, who was 9th out of the swim, made up for it with the 4th fastest bike time out of the women, then used her exceptional running talent to wipe up the field, finishing the race in 1:56.04. Let me tell you something. If you're doing an Olympic distance race in less than two hours, you're not messing around. Those times are FAST.

The quickest bike time for the day was posted by Canadian Tenille Hoogland, who turned in a mean 59.16. For 40km? That is, though I'm sure you don't need to be told, more than 40km/h.

In the men's field, New Zealand was represented by Millward, Martin van Barneveld and my hometown hero, Graham O'Grady. The swim was less of a one-horse show than the women's race, with 11 men exiting the water with times between 16:14 and 16:47. Van Barneveld was in the second bunch, along with Millward. In the bike, equally ridiculous times were posted - the fastest of which was USA's Brian Fleischmann in 53:15. These are like, cycling race times. Where is the profile!? Millward's 53:22 was sharp, and he was the 4th fastest cyclist on the day, where van Barneveld was 8th in 53:33. O'Grady was involved in a most unfortunate crash on the bike, ending his race. Which SUCKS, because he's so cool!

Millward tied for the fastest run on the day with Kevin Collington of the USA, with van Barneveld's 30:59 for 10km placing him an impressive second in the run standings. Millward's overall time of 1:43.16 saw him edge Collington out by 4 seconds, and van Barneveld ran home for 3rd, 28 seconds down.

Kind of embarrassingly, the men's field was 38 strong, compared to the 14 ladies in the women's event. Let's get out there!

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