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Four Kiwi triathletes to compete in Rio

NZN 24/05/2016

New Zealand's Olympic triathlon quota hasn't been filled after Ryan Sissons, Tony Dodds and Nickey Samuels were named to join Andrea Hewitt at Rio.

After being granted five places by the International Triathlon Union, the selectors have agreed only four places were warranted, with a women's berth going unfilled.

Double Olympian Hewitt was selected last October but, since then, only Sissons has fulfilled the Triathlon New Zealand selection criteria of two top-eight world series finishes.

Wanaka pair Samuels and Dodds achieved one top-eight finish each but their battles with injury and a perceived ability to peak in Rio were taken into account by the selectors.

Two-time Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty, who was on TNZ's selection commission, said the selection process was flawless.

"I probably wasn't aware of the process when I was an athlete but now I have been through it I can reassure everyone of a fair and honest selection process," he said.

"The benchmarks were set quite high, but as the level of competition in triathlon is rising and getting harder and faster, the policy is meeting that challenge as well."

New Zealand fielded the full contingent of three men and three women at each of the last two Olympics.

Hewitt, 34, placed sixth at London 2012 and eighth in Beijing four years earlier. Sissons (33rd) and Samuels (35th) both competed at London while Dodds will fulfil what he says is a 15-year-old goal by making his Games debut.

It completes a notable comeback for Samuels, 33, who finished 2014 ranked fifth in the world but has been plagued since by injury.

She believes the course based around Copacabana Beach suits the Kiwi contingent.

"New Zealand athletes have a good record on strength courses," she said.

"I think both Andrea and I are suited to this race. Any day with a solid bike ride as part of the triathlon is a good one for us."

Sissons says he will be driven by the memory of his former coach Laurent Vidal, who died of a heart attack in November.

Frenchman Vidal was the fiance and coach of Hewitt.

"Both of us would love to have had Laurent there," Sissons said.

"But we are sure he will be looking down and supporting us, we will both be doing our best to make him proud."

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