Wanaka triathlete Nicky Samuels is on the road to Rio, following confirmation today (May 25 2016) of her selection for the New Zealand triathlon team.
Samuels, 33, has faced a hard road to the Olympics after enjoying a breakthrough season in 2014, ranking fifth in the world in the ITU World Triathlon Series but then but not racing in 2015 due to injury.
Despite that, and her path to recovery throughout ITU championship events this year, she still has the second best results (including a podium) of any Kiwi women during the qualification period.
She is “absolutely delighted” to be confirmed for the Rio team, announced today by the New Zealand Olympic Committee. “I’m excited about the course in Rio and opportunity to race for the highest honour in my sport.”
She is thrilled with the support she’s had from Triathlon New Zealand throughout her rehabilitation and training, and their confidence in her ability to race her way back to the Rio podium in August.
She’s only been back full-time training since January this year, building up her strength, endurance and speed over the Kiwi summer on the roads and scenic lakeside and river trails around her home town of Wanaka.
She’s quick to credit the stunning Central Otago environment and the support she’s had from her community and family as being integral to her build-up to the world stage.
“Motivation comes from within, and it helps that I live in such a beautiful area and every day I can take inspiration from the mountains and the lake.
“This helps with my training; every day I’m out there swimming, biking and running. During the Wanaka summer I like to call this my base training phase, 30 hours a week and then I’ll move into racing phase and that’ll be around 26 hours a week.
“I think people think it’s the ultimate lifestyle doing this sort of training but you do have to put a lot of hard work into it. When you do actually add the number of hours that you’re out there pounding the pavement or riding the roads or lapping it up in the swimming pool, it does get a little bit repetitive, but when you’re in an environment like this it does make it so much easier.
“It’s hard to go from a national level to the international level and once you do get to that level you’ve got to push on, because you’re pushing to that goal. It’s always there in the back of your mind and you really want to make it to the pinnacle level of your sport and that’s what Rio is all about!”
Nicky Samuels putting in the kilometres on her bike around scenic Wanaka, building towards the ITU World Triathlon Series and Rio Olympics
Before being injured she’d enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2014, finishing the year in the top five on world rankings with consecutive podium finishes.
“I am very happy to be selected to go to Rio, it is always an honour to represent New Zealand but even more so at an Olympic Games. For me and my supporters we have spent the last four years working towards this, it has been no secret that since London I have been preparing for Rio.
“This has always been the goal, and to finish on the podium would be the ultimate.”
Samuels is convinced that as a former top bike rider, the Rio course will suit not only her but female teammate Andrea Hewitt.
She’s now off to Europe for final preparations at her altitude training base in France, from where her Road to Rio includes competing in two more ITU champs in Stockholm then Hamburg in July.
To watch a short video of Nicky Samuels’ Road to Rio click here
Nicky Samuels past success:
3rd 2014 World Series race Stockholm, Sweden
3rd 2014 World Triathlon series grand final Edmonton, Canada
2014 world ranking – 5th
2nd 2014 Xterra world championships
Multiple world cup winner
2012 – ITU Aquathlon World Champion