New Zealand Olympian and ITU road triathlon star Nicky Samuels returns to Maui to defend her XTERRA World Championship crown next Sunday. This time, she’ll have a bulls-eye on her back.
“It’s always easier going into a race with no expectations. Last year I was there for my family and the race was a bonus. This year it will be different, definitely have a target on my back but I'll give it my best to keep it there,” said Samuels.
The 31-year-old from Wanaka ended her road triathlon season strong with back-to-back bronze medals in the last two races of the World Triathlon Series, her best performances to date, then took a well-deserved break.
“It’s hard to tell what shape your body is in at this time of year, it's a bit hit and miss, either it will be a great day or a terrible one. I had a break after the ITU World Champs Final and have built my training up again for this race. I live in one of the best places in the world for training so it's really good to be able to use all the Wanaka has to offer with its numerous trails and adventures,” said Samuels, who will use the same Giant XTC 29er she rode to victory last year. “It did such a good job last year I don't want to change!”
This will be the fifth XTERRA in Samuel’s career, and she’s won three of them – twice at her hometown races at XTERRA Motatapu and Maui last year. Most recently she was second to Flora Duffy at the XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championship race in New South Wales, Australia in April.
Looking ahead, Samuels aspires to represent New Zealand at the Rio Olympics.
“Next year we will have two races which will be trial races for Rio Olympic Games. I need to perform perfectly in at least one of them to gain my selection. The exact details aren't out yet about qualification but my training has been aiming at Rio for some time now so hopefully everything will come together nicely and I can back up the last couple of races from last year again in the next couple of years.”