Norden and Densham in Great Shape For Auckland 10 Oct 2012
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10th October 2012
Norden and Densham in Great Shape For Auckland
Current world numbers one and two in the ITU World Triathlon Series rankings Erin Densham (AUS) and Lisa Norden (SWE) arrive in Auckland early next week wary of a tough course, huge crowds and home advantage for the Kiwis.
Both have enjoyed stellar seasons, with Densham in great form early in the year to gain selection for London, where she went on to win bronze, while Norden has put some early season illness behind her to win silver in London and post wins at Stockholm, Des Moines and Yokohama, putting her within touching distance of Densham on overall points.
Neither athlete raced in the ITU World Cup on the Auckland course last year, but both have heard plenty about how demanding it will be in the chase for the World Title at the Barfoot & Thompson World Triathlon Grand Final.
“I have never seen the Auckland course,” said Densham. “I have only looked at the course profile, but from what I hear the bike is pretty tough. There are a lot of strong riders amongst the field which will probably try to blow the race apart. I like a tough bike course so I am looking forward to it and there should be some great racing across all the races.”
“Well, I like tough courses and I don't think there are enough of them out there,” said Norden. “I have heard from my training partners who raced last year that this one in particular is an absolute killer. And I must admit it makes me curious.
“Being a tough bike impacts so much on the whole race as such. The winner has to be very complete and being able to handle a quick run off a hard bike. There is no faking it... so I better get that training done!”
Both athletes do however know what it is to win an Olympic medal, with Norden pipped by the narrowest of margins for gold by Nicola Spirig (SUI – not racing in Auckland) and Densham winning bronze.
For Densham the experience was one of mixed emotions.
“I haven't been home since the Olympics. But I have heard that everyone was really excited from the town where I grew up. I've had mixed emotions about that race, mostly frustration. It still baffles me as to why I was so tired on that day. But I got over it. I am happy with the bronze medal. I think that no matter what the result it would not have changed me. I'm still the same person I was before the race, as I was on race day and as I am today. I think that is important for me.”
Norden has been back to Sweden, winning her ‘home’ event in Stockholm.
“It changed me from having been a consistent quite successful athlete - to an Olympic medallist, an achievement that I rank as the most sought after triathlon title of them all. I feel very content with my career and it has given me something real to show people.
“Coming back to Sweden I realized the full extent of the changes that had occurred during those two hours. Sweden won in total 7 medals at the Olympic Games and in a big survey made by one of the biggest newspapers a majority voted for my silver to be the highlight of the Olympics. Maybe that gives you an idea of how much things have changed for me.”
Those thoughts however will be put behind Densham come race time for the women at 12.16pm on Saturday 20th, when the pursuit of an elusive World Championship title goes on the line.
“As I am currently leading the series, yes, I would say that becoming a World Champion is a priority for me. After having such a great start to the year, winning the World Series has always been there in the back of my mind.
“It has been a long season and I feel very lucky that I am healthy and injury free. The last few years have been plagued by illness and injury. This will actually be the first full season I will complete - I think ever. So I am just going to keep chipping away and do the best that I can and here’s hoping that means a World Championship.”
Both are however wary of the home crowd support and what that might do for the New Zealanders, including Andrea Hewitt, currently 4th in the title race and still with a chance of taking overall honours if results go the Kiwis' way.
“I’m sure it (the crowd) will spur them on,” said Densham. “But they may also feel some pressure too. Which, depending on the person can be a positive or a negative. This will be my first World Championship (Final) where the Elite and Age Group races are on at the same place and at the same time. That makes it so much more exciting and I know the atmosphere over the whole event is going to be incredible.”
Norden had one word to describe if the home advantage will work for the Kiwis.
“Massively. Maybe not so much the crowd itself, but knowing how much it means to be racing in front of them will give the Kiwis that little edge in motivation and will to be 100% prepared.”
Densham and Norden arrive in New Zealand early next week and will be available for further comment at the ITU elite press conference on Friday 19th October at 1pm, at The Cloud.
Facts and figures
Event Partners: Tri NZ, ATEED, Major Events, Tourism NZ, Sport NZ, Pub Charity
Event Hub: Queens Wharf,
Dates: 14 to 22 October 2012
Estimated TV audience: 25,000,000 global audience for ITU Grand Final
Participants: 7,000 plus (including Internationals)
Elite: 360 from around the world including top 20
Spectators: 100,000 plus
Courses: A variety of CBD, Queen St, Waterfront
Economic Impact: Estimated net $7 million for Auckland (using ATEED’s “Return on Regional Investment” methodology)
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