Wanaka triathlete Nicky Samuels has spoken of her
frustration after she "sacrificed" her own race at the London
Olympics in a fruitless attempt to help team-mate Andrea Hewitt
win a medal.
The team tactics were stipulated in a contract between
Triathlon New Zealand and team members Hewitt, Kate McIlroy
and Samuels, who were 6th, 10th and 35th, respectively, in
the women's Olympic triathlon race last month.
In an email sent to supporters this week, Samuels questioned
the strategy - which required her to hold back in the race to
help her team-mates, yet failed to deliver medals for New
"It was disappointing for me to think how much work I had put
in throughout the year preparing, qualifying, preparing again
and then just watch it all happen right before your eyes and
you can't do anything about [it] - this was very frustrating
for me," Samuels wrote.
"I am also not sure I would commit to work as a team again if
that was going to be the result, no medal for triathlon and
New Zealand and a 30-plus finish for me wasn't ideal. I felt
I sacrificed my own race and am disappointed with that."
Tri NZ national coach Greg Fraine said the agreement between
the three women and Tri NZ was made about a month before the
Olympics as "part of the requirements" of the triathlon high
"There was no mention of sacrificing anybody prior, but if
the situation came that the three of them could combine to
make a stronger alliance or a stronger unit that was the
agreement," Fraine said.
"If someone [from New Zealand] was in the front, they would
not actively chase or combine with other athletes from other
nations to chase down the front group.
"They all agreed that that was in the best interests of
themselves to work together and in the best interests of
achieving a medal for a New Zealander."
Samuels said her poor swim leg in London saw her exit the
water about 15 seconds behind the main group, alongside some
of the fastest runners in the field.
"Runners which the New Zealand team ... had discussed heavily
during the build-up to the Olympics," she said.
"I am not a huge one for team tactics as I like to control my
own destiny and race as hard as I can to the end. However, in
this case we were to set the race up for Andrea to run into a
medal spot and all agreed and signed a contract for it."
She said she was "forced to sit back and disrupt the chase
pack" to prevent them catching the front group during the
bike leg, leaving the race "perfectly" set up for Hewitt, who
ultimately lost ground on the run leg and fell out of medal
Samuels acknowledged she let herself down in the swim, and
"sometimes it does take a team effort to win medals in this
hugely competitive sport".
Fraine stood by the tactics, despite none of the trio making
it to the podium.
"I still believe that the best way to approach this is to
have three people who are working as a unit because they can
all benefit," he said.
He felt for Samuels, who had been performing well in the swim
leg in the months leading up to the Olympics.
"And to her credit she stuck by the agreement."
Samuels leaves her parents' home in Whangarei today for races
in China and South Korea before returning to Wanaka for a
month's training ahead of the world triathlon series grand
final in Auckland next month.