New Zealander Barclay stuns triathlon world
Mon, Aug 16, 2010

Little known New Zealander Aaron Barclay has stunned the triathlon world by winning the men's individual event at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games.

The 17-year-old's achievement is all the more remarkable because he is visually impaired, and was racing in his first event outside of Oceania.

"I wanted to swim in the front bunch and take it from there, and I was trying not to give these guys an inch because they'll take a mile," Barclay said. "They are unknown to me so I had to be aggressive, and they didn't know me so they didn't chase."

Barclay, who lives in the small town of Gore on the southern tip of New Zealand's south island, was fourth out of water in the swim leg, then took the lead in the cycle leg.

He was never headed after that, and finished almost 14 seconds ahead of pre-race favourite Kevin McDowell (USA).

"I stuck on (McDowell's) tail. He started fading back, so 'I thought I'm in for a medal here,'" he said.

Barclay claimed victory in front of his hero, Athens Olympic champion Hamish Carter (NZL), as well as his jubilant parents and grandparents.

"It is really awesome to race well for them. I wouldn't be here right now without them. It's awesome to give a little bit back to them too."

Barclay competed in his first international competition, the Gold Coast 2009 OTU World Championships in Australia, less than a year before the Singapore Games, and finished 31st.

The triathlon gold medallist has a serious visual impairment, but chooses to race without contact lenses because they cause him discomfort.

"It's quite uncomfortable, especially on the bike as they dry out very quickly," he said. "I've gotten used to racing like this."

McDowell had to be content with the silver medal, and conceded he was trumped by the New Zealander.

"This was the hardest race I've ever done," he said. "The bike race was really fast and everyone was attacking, there were so many strong cyclists here today."

McDowell, who has just turned 18, attributed some of his success to his lucky yellow cap.

"I wear it for all the elite races. There was only one race I didn't wear it this year and I crashed," he said.

Both Barclay and McDowell, along with bronze medallist Alois Knable (AUT), are in training for the upcoming ITU Junior World Championships in Budapest in September.

At that event, the Kiwi will no longer be considered as an unknown.


For more Youth Olympic Games stories, click here.

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