Oops!… I Did It Again sang Britney Spears, but we can readily apply that to New Zealand’s Hayden Wilde. He backed up his West India Quay victory 12 months ago with another Super League Triathlon London title on Sunday in the heart of the UK’s financial district.
He might be more than 18,000km away from ‘home’, but Wilde – who was also fantastic during that memorable Commonwealth Games event in Birmingham – consistently shows no signs of homesickness when racing on UK soil.
I spoke to him shortly after earning another gold medal in London.
“I guess being from the Commonwealth, it’s my home away from home. I seem to race really well here in on UK soil, with Leeds and a double London win, so we’ll just keep it rolling. It’s good to see that the fitness is here after four weeks of not really being myself, so it’s nice to come here and set the scene for the rest of the season.”
SLT racing is consistently close, and into the final stage we were left with the three medallists from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games – Alex Yee, Wilde and Matt Hauser – battling for the podium spots. With the Aussie also having a Short Chute to take and being the quickest swimmer of the trio – with just a swim and run remaining – a repeat victory for Hayden, was looking far from certain until the very final stages of the race.
“I actually looked at the board and didn’t know that the Eagles had a short chute. As soon as I turned around I saw Matt, and thought ‘oh man’!. I didn’t know where Alex was and knew he was going to come hard. We had an absolutely brilliant transition, Matty and I, and it was good to have a fight all the way to the end.
“Unfortunately he had a penalty which he shouldn’t have served, which was really gutting in terms of the end result for him, but for him and I to be that close and Alex not racing the rest of the (Super League) season, I think it might be an Oceania battle for the rest of the season.”
Next stop, Munich
From London’s Triple Mix format of three races to mix up the disciplines, Munich will see the non-stop Enduro, three back-to-back swim-bike-run efforts with no rest.
“I really do like the Enduro. It really brings out the speed, but you also have to be wise as to how much of the speed you use for the endurance side. It’s going to be very exciting, it’s a very hard course and once again a lot of cobbles, including a cobbled uphill ride, and so it’s going to be really tough. I know Matt’s going to come out hard and Jonny will be there as well.”
Going long(er) again? Yes please
Despite already having one of the busiest racing schedules of the season, Hayden was a ‘Wilde’ card for Team Internationals at the Collins Cup recently. It was a distance he enjoyed – and wants to include within his schedule moving forward.
“Honestly, I really enjoyed going back to that distance. For me it was satisfying because you swim pretty much how you normally would in an ITU race, and then this time I’m not dragging 20 or 30 people up, so you put your own effort out there and get your reward on the bike. And then on the run, that solo run was really nice.
“As I said, I’ve been pretty ill the last two or three weeks with a virus, and coming into it I was probably only at about 70%. To go face-to-face with Kristian at 70% is about the worst thing you can possibly do though!
“I actually thought that I had a terrible race, but looking at the results, I think I was the second fastest International, which I was surprised about. And then sixth or seventh or something overall. Knowing I did that at about 70%, I’m actually looking forward to going back to some PTO events and racing those guys. They are a bunch of great blokes and they race hardcore. I really like it.”
Despite Paris being just two years away now, Hayden told me that he does think there will be some scope within the schedule to fit some longer distance racing in, explaining: “Yeah I think so. I’ve got to look at my season again because this season has been really jam-packed with a long ITU season, but I always want to do Super League because it keeps you honest and those fast twitch fibres going.
“But I think I might intermingle it with ITU and a bit of PTO because it’s fun racing, it’s hard racing, honest racing – and there’s some good money there up for grabs as well for athletes – so I’d like to go there and do my bit with the long distance guys.”