Press Release – Triathlon NZ Media
The Junior Women’s ITU World Championships race was full of thrills and spills at Auckland’s Queens Wharf this morning with two New Zealanders in the top 8, a great result for the team and even more impressive given defending champion Mikayla Nielsen (Waikato) withdrew dramatically when in the lead group on the run, suffering from hypothermia.
The race was won by the pint sized Fumika Matsumoto from Japan. Hot on her heels was kiwi Maddie Dillon in 5th place, just seconds away from a medal.
The North Shore local was “happy, but not super happy” with her race. Dillon charged to the front at the half way point, but was unable to hold her lead up the finishing shoot.
“On the run, I thought I was killing it, and then they passed me and I just didn’t have that extra gear that they had, but I tried, I gave it my all.”
Nielsen was the first kiwi out of the water and with a speedy transition was 6th out of transition. She was joined in the first bunch by fellow kiwis Maddie Dillon and Elise Salt.
The New Zealand girls handled the slippery conditions in the large bunch well, avoiding the crashes that took a handful of athletes out of the race. Salt took the position at the front of the pack for a good portion of the bike, as they carefully cornered the steep and slippery Auckland Streets.
The New Zealand girls all started the run within the top 10 and when New Zealand Cross Country Champion Neilsen pulled out, the other kiwi girls stepped up.
Salt and Dillon both put in solid runs, leaving nothing on the course.
“It was so hard but I felt really good, the first 500m felt terrible but I just knew if I kept going it would get better” said 17 year old Salt. I was really happy with my race”.
Nielsen was recovering well post race in the care of the event and Tri NZ team medics, albeit disappointed that she had not been able to defend her title.