Gomez raring to go in Wanaka

Half ironman world champion and London 2012 silver medallist Javier Gomez, of Spain, will compete...
Half ironman world champion and London 2012 silver medallist Javier Gomez, of Spain, will compete in Challenge Wanaka for the first time this weekend. Photo: Sean Nugent
Current triathlon world champion and former Olympic silver medallist Javier Gomez is looking forward to competing in Challenge Wanaka  tomorrow and says he has "always liked New Zealand".

The 34-year-old Spaniard arrived in Wanaka on Wednesday  in preparation for his debut  in  the event, and was excited  he would be racing in such a "beautiful place".

"I’m really excited to race here. It’s a great field, better than expected, so it’s going to be a a tough competition but it’s such a beautiful place I wanted to be a part of it," he said.

Gomez has been based in Tauranga all summer and took part in the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman in December alongside his Kiwi partner, Anneke Jenkins.

He said New Zealand  had, for a long time, been a special place for him.

"My first big international race was back in 2003 when I won my first under-23 world title so since then I have always liked New Zealand. I’ve raced here many times, I have training camps here, and I met my girlfriend here so it’s a pretty special place."

Gomez has not not run an individual race since November.  He  said he was not as fit as he wanted to be but "just couldn’t say no to the opportunity to race here".

He was looking forward to competing against a strong field including defending champion and course record-holder Dougal Allan and three-time champion Dylan McNeice.

"The Kiwi boys are really fit and they prepare for this race very specifically. I have a lot of respect for them and I know it’s going to be very tough.

"Even though I’m the world champion I know that if I want to win this race I have to prove it. We all suffer the same. Your background doesn’t really matter. You have to prove it in the race."

The London 2012 silver medallist missed out on the Rio Olympics through injury  but has not ruled out competing  at Tokyo in 2020.

"It was very disappointing not making it to Rio after I broke my elbow three weeks before the race. This year I’ll be more focused on longer distances and after that I’ll decide whether I try to qualify for Tokyo. I’m not really thinking about that yet. I just want to focus on this season and trying to do well in long distance and then I will decide."

sean.nugent@odt.co.nz

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