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Hayden Wilde on his battles with Alex Yee: ‘Every great generation has a great rivalry’

They may have been the ones to beat recently but Kiwi knows it's only going to get tougher in an Olympic year.

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Hayden Wilde relishes his rivalry with Alex Yee but, at the start of an Olympic year, isn’t getting carried away with the idea they have Paris glory between them.

Even though neither has yet to win an overall WTCS title, both Kiwi Wilde and Brit Yee have been the two dominant forces in terms of male short-course race wins in the last couple of seasons since the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

They have 10 WTCS race victories between them in that time – and both have been crowned Super League Triathlon champions.

And their rivalry has also been notable for the sporting nature of it, with huge mutual respect illustrated on a number of occasions.


‘With Alex it’s been great’

Speaking in the latest Super League ‘Face-to-Face’ video, embedded below, Wilde told interviewer Adam Leitch about the time they first locked horns: “We first met each other in 2018. We were rooming together in Jersey [at Super League] and that’s the first time we met each other and were just having a good laugh, good fun and it was a good time.

“Then we moved on and he invited me over to training in Leeds for three weeks after that and we made a really good relationship and then from there we just went from strength to strength.

“We just continuously matched each other over the years and now we’re here at the top beside each other, which I feel like is a really cool upbringing and it’s really nice to have, I guess, a rivalry with someone.

“It could have been anyone, but with Alex it’s been great.”

All about the run

But Wilde revealed it’s not something he’s as fixated on as the wider world, explaining: “It’s kind of weird because when I go into a race, of course I’m looking at Alex as a favourite and at Matt [Hauser] as a favourite and at Kristian [Blummenfelt] but I don’t really worry about any of them until I get to probably the run.

“If I get into the bike group, I’m like, okay, everyone’s here, let’s see what happens. And then I get into the run and that’s when you kind of start really focusing on that rivalry and you want to beat the guy and you want to have a really good tussle with him.

“Every great generation has a great rivalry and I’m sure Alex would say the same thing – we’re very fortunate to be at the top and we’re fortunate that we have this awesome rivalry and people talk about it and it is the big thing to talk about in short-course triathlon and hopefully our rivalry sparked other athletes like Matt and Vasco [Vilaca] and Kristian to be better the next day and come fight us.

We have a great rivalry and we push each other every single day in races but sometimes we kind of have to not focus on each other because we know that other athletes are coming for us.

“And we do get challenged many times. We know I’ve been beaten by Matt, I’ve been beaten by Leo [Bergere] and Vasco and Kristian and Vince [Luis] and everyone.

“So it’s a cool little rivalry that Alex and I have, but there’s so many other people that I think are getting driven to then wanting to come into the rivalry, which is great. It just makes the sport more healthy.”

Hayden Wilde / Alex Yee WTCS Cagliari 2023 run

And ultimately it boils down to who wins Olympic gold in 2024 – with reigning champion Blummenfelt very much back in the equation as he refocusses all his energies on short course.

Wilde signed off by saying: “I think you want to win that Olympic medal for sure, because that’s the one that everyone looks for. It’s only every four years and if you win that, you kind of cement yourself in history.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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