Two Auckland athletes in triathlon team for Youth Olympics

Press Release – Triathlon New Zealand
Triathlon New Zealand is thrilled at the naming by the New Zealand Olympic Committee of four promising young triathletes to compete at the Australian Youth Olympics in Sydney next January.

Mikayla Nielsen (Waikato), Elise Salt (Auckland), Troy McAlister (Southland) and Sam Ward (Auckland) will compete for New Zealand in the triathlon at the Australian Youth Olympic festival for athletes aged under 19.

Lumsden born and now living in Winton, McAlister is doing his best to keep the race in perspective.

“In my head the Youth Olympics is just another race, which is partly due to how nervous I get just thinking of how big a deal it is, racing at the Youth Olympics really will be huge. It’s a good chance to show friends and family I do appreciate the support by racing fast and strong.

“My number one goal for every race is to race to my plan and then everything falls into place. But I will aim for top 10 finish in Sydney.”

At 17 years of age, Elise Salt will be amongst the youngest in the U19 field but has the experience of a superb 8th place finish in the elite Junior Women (U19) world champs in Auckland in October to help ease any nerves heading into Sydney.

“If I want to make it as an elite triathlete then I need to be prepared to race overseas and against other international triathletes. Competing at the Youth Olympics will be a great experience and good practise for the type of racing I will be doing more of over the coming years. It also means a lot to be representing New Zealand as one of only four kiwi triathletes going.

“I want to go to Sydney in great form and when I’m there see what I can do. I always go into a race with the mind set of doing the best I can and January will be no exception.”

Sam Ward also raced superbly at the Auckland World Championships in October and while he doesn’t turn 19 until December 2013, the Guam born Aucklander has been in the sport for some years already.

“I have been competing in triathlon for 8 years now with my first race being the Weetbix TRYathlon, my family have always been interested in the sport and my mum competed at the South Pacific Games representing Guam and won the silver medal in Triathlon in 1999. From a young age I have always been involved with running and swimming, and have always been encouraged by my parents to get out and train.

“It is amazing to be selected to represent my nation at this event and wear the Silver Fern proudly on my chest. It will mean so much to race in Sydney, to race hard and make my family and friends proud. I hope that I have a good race and make the podium. It will also be great to gain experience racing against a tough international field.”

Perhaps the best known of the New Zealanders is 2011 ITU Junior Women’s world champion Mikayla Nielsen. The sister of Olympic track cyclist Jaime, Mikayla says the early signs pointed towards something involving running.

“I grew up in Tamahere – a country suburb between Hamilton and Cambridge. We shifted there from a busy town location when I was just a year old. When I learned to walk, I apparently always found a way to escape the barriers of home and would be caught running down a nearby busy sidewalk. So, I guess I was destined to run. At least in the country when I escaped, it was usually into the neighbouring paddocks. Since birth I’ve been bathed in it through Jaime’s preoccupation with sport.

“Naturally it’s a great honour to represent New Zealand. Also, it’s another shot for me in the international arena. It’s the start of a new season so I’ll be able to see where I’m at. I’ll also get to meet other athletes competing in different sports not only from home but from all around the world.”

The Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) was initiated by the Australian Olympic Committee following the success of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

The inaugural Festival was held in January 2001 and takes place every four years, alternating with the IOC-run Youth Olympic Games. The AYOF is fully funded by the Australian Olympic Committee and is held under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee.

In 2013 around 1700 athletes aged between 13 – 19 years from 30 nations will compete in 20 sports. The festival takes place in Sydney January 16 – 20 2013.

ABOUT AYOF The Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) was initiated by the Australian Olympic Committee following the success of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The inaugural Festival was held in January 2001 and takes place every four years, alternating with the IOC-run Youth Olympic Games. The AYOF is held under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee.

ENDS

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