Going for Games gold

DREAM COME TRUE: Tayler Reid’s dream of representing his country at the Commonwealth Games is to become a reality after his selection in the five-strong New Zealand triathlon team. The 21-year-old will continue Gisborne’s proud tradition of producing Games athletes over the years.
Tri NZ picture

TAYLER Reid was still on cloud nine when he came into The Gisborne Herald office this morning following his selection for the New Zealand team to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

“It’s still sinking in,” said Reid, who will elatedly celebrate his 21st tomorrow.

“My birthday is October 2 but it was too close to my race in South Korea — the last ITU World Cup series event on October 28. I’ll have a few friends over tomorrow night, then it’s back into training.

Reid faced an anxious wait after finishing 20th and behind Kiwi rivals Sam Ward (fourth) and Dan Hoy (eighth) in South Korea.

The former Gisborne Boys’ High student was first out of the water — ahead of eventual winner Raphael Aurelien of France — and stayed in touch with the front throughout the cycle, but fell away on the run. He ended up a minute behind Aurelien.

“I was devastated after that race. For me, it was all about sticking with the Kiwis, but I put too much into the bike.

“I took a gamble when I had a gap and went for it. It paid off when I came third in the Czech Republic race but not this time.

“After the race I thought I’d blown my chances of getting picked for the Games team.”

Impressive performances in his first season in the elite division, including a third in the ITU world championship in the Czech Republic, kept Reid in contention.

However, the night before the official announcement was a sleepless one for him.

“I was visiting some friends in Cambridge and was about to go to bed at 10pm when my phone buzzed. It was a text from Mark Elliott, the Triathlon New Zealand high performance director, saying he was going to phone me the next day.

“I wished I hadn’t checked my phone. I couldn’t get to sleep as I was going over the possibility of whether I was in or out.

“I wondered if all the hard work I had put in over the past five years was all for nothing.

“Mark rang the next day and started talking about the Commonwealth Games and procedures without telling me what I wanted to hear. The he said ‘congratulations you’re in’.

“I just wanted to let it all out but Mark said apart from my immediate family I couldn’t tell anyone until the official announcement.

“That was hard. I had mates close by at the time. Fortunately they didn’t ask me who was calling.

“But being able to tell my family was my favourite part of the news. Now I’m itching to get back into training.

If it was down to me I would probably hammer it (in training) and not be at my peak for the Games, but Stephen (Sheldrake, Reid’s coach) will keep me right. That’s one of the plusses of having someone who has been there and done that as a competitor and a coach.

“That experience gives value and weight to what he says. “I’m lucky to have Stephen as my coach.”

Reid also paid tribute to his first tri coach — John Scott — and his Enterprise Cars Swim Team coach Gary Martin.

“John started me off on a proper tri training schedule and I learned so much from Gary.”

Sheldrake came on board five years ago and mapped out a 10-year plan that included going to the Tokyo Olympics (2020) and beyond.

“This is a stepping stone,” Sheldrake said. “Tayler’s 21 and the selectors have seen his potential. There’s still a lot of work to be done but he’s learning all the time.”

Reid said he and Sheldrake would decide what races he would enter between now and the Gold Coast.

“There are a few races, including two world cup races, but it’s all about choosing the right ones to prepare for the Games.

There will be plenty of big names competing.

Reid said the favourites would have to be the British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee.

“But I’m not scared of them or overawed about racing against them.

“You obviously have to respect them and all the other athletes who have reached the top, but I want to be the best and to do that you have to beat the best.”

Reid will take confidence from the ITU Series Olympic distance event in Yokohama, Japan, where he was alongside Jonathan Brownlee coming out of the water, led him out of the transition on to the bike and was ahead of him heading into the 10-kilometre run.

He remained in contention until 2.5km from the finish before fading.

“The sprint distance (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run) at the Commonwealth Games will suit me better.

“I’m also excited about the mixed team relay race. At the last Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow), New Zealand went close to a medal and we’ve got a good team going to the Gold Coast.”

Reid’s teammates for the Games are Andrea Hewitt (35), Ryan Sissons (29), Rebecca Spence (29) and Nicole van der Kaay (21).

All athletes will contest the individual events and the two men and two of the women will race in the mixed team relay.

Elliott said it was a great group of athletes.

“It’s fantastic to have not only the experience of Andrea and Ryan, who have both been on the WTS (World Triathlon Series) for a number of years, but also youth like Nicole and Tayler there. They will develop their skills and potential at this event.”

TAYLER Reid was still on cloud nine when he came into The Gisborne Herald office this morning following his selection for the New Zealand team to compete in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

“It’s still sinking in,” said Reid, who will elatedly celebrate his 21st tomorrow.

“My birthday is October 2 but it was too close to my race in South Korea — the last ITU World Cup series event on October 28. I’ll have a few friends over tomorrow night, then it’s back into training.

Reid faced an anxious wait after finishing 20th and behind Kiwi rivals Sam Ward (fourth) and Dan Hoy (eighth) in South Korea.

The former Gisborne Boys’ High student was first out of the water — ahead of eventual winner Raphael Aurelien of France — and stayed in touch with the front throughout the cycle, but fell away on the run. He ended up a minute behind Aurelien.

“I was devastated after that race. For me, it was all about sticking with the Kiwis, but I put too much into the bike.

“I took a gamble when I had a gap and went for it. It paid off when I came third in the Czech Republic race but not this time.

“After the race I thought I’d blown my chances of getting picked for the Games team.”

Impressive performances in his first season in the elite division, including a third in the ITU world championship in the Czech Republic, kept Reid in contention.

However, the night before the official announcement was a sleepless one for him.

“I was visiting some friends in Cambridge and was about to go to bed at 10pm when my phone buzzed. It was a text from Mark Elliott, the Triathlon New Zealand high performance director, saying he was going to phone me the next day.

“I wished I hadn’t checked my phone. I couldn’t get to sleep as I was going over the possibility of whether I was in or out.

“I wondered if all the hard work I had put in over the past five years was all for nothing.

“Mark rang the next day and started talking about the Commonwealth Games and procedures without telling me what I wanted to hear. The he said ‘congratulations you’re in’.

“I just wanted to let it all out but Mark said apart from my immediate family I couldn’t tell anyone until the official announcement.

“That was hard. I had mates close by at the time. Fortunately they didn’t ask me who was calling.

“But being able to tell my family was my favourite part of the news. Now I’m itching to get back into training.

If it was down to me I would probably hammer it (in training) and not be at my peak for the Games, but Stephen (Sheldrake, Reid’s coach) will keep me right. That’s one of the plusses of having someone who has been there and done that as a competitor and a coach.

“That experience gives value and weight to what he says. “I’m lucky to have Stephen as my coach.”

Reid also paid tribute to his first tri coach — John Scott — and his Enterprise Cars Swim Team coach Gary Martin.

“John started me off on a proper tri training schedule and I learned so much from Gary.”

Sheldrake came on board five years ago and mapped out a 10-year plan that included going to the Tokyo Olympics (2020) and beyond.

“This is a stepping stone,” Sheldrake said. “Tayler’s 21 and the selectors have seen his potential. There’s still a lot of work to be done but he’s learning all the time.”

Reid said he and Sheldrake would decide what races he would enter between now and the Gold Coast.

“There are a few races, including two world cup races, but it’s all about choosing the right ones to prepare for the Games.

There will be plenty of big names competing.

Reid said the favourites would have to be the British brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee.

“But I’m not scared of them or overawed about racing against them.

“You obviously have to respect them and all the other athletes who have reached the top, but I want to be the best and to do that you have to beat the best.”

Reid will take confidence from the ITU Series Olympic distance event in Yokohama, Japan, where he was alongside Jonathan Brownlee coming out of the water, led him out of the transition on to the bike and was ahead of him heading into the 10-kilometre run.

He remained in contention until 2.5km from the finish before fading.

“The sprint distance (750m swim, 20km cycle, 5km run) at the Commonwealth Games will suit me better.

“I’m also excited about the mixed team relay race. At the last Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow), New Zealand went close to a medal and we’ve got a good team going to the Gold Coast.”

Reid’s teammates for the Games are Andrea Hewitt (35), Ryan Sissons (29), Rebecca Spence (29) and Nicole van der Kaay (21).

All athletes will contest the individual events and the two men and two of the women will race in the mixed team relay.

Elliott said it was a great group of athletes.

“It’s fantastic to have not only the experience of Andrea and Ryan, who have both been on the WTS (World Triathlon Series) for a number of years, but also youth like Nicole and Tayler there. They will develop their skills and potential at this event.”

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