Kiwi triathlete Hayden Wilde claims Arena Games victory in Singapore

New Zealand triathlete Hayden Wilde took out the Arena Games title in Singapore.

Paul Miller / Superleague Triathlon

New Zealand triathlete Hayden Wilde took out the Arena Games title in Singapore.

Kiwi triathlete Hayden Wilde has made the perfect start to his season, claiming victory in the final round of the Arena Games World Championship Series in Singapore.

The Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist had not featured at last month’s opening two rounds of the competition in Germany and England, but showed all his class in Saturday’s finale in what promises to be a huge year.

The Arena Games is a real-life / virtual reality blended event, with the swim leg taking place in either an Olympic-sized pool, or in Singapore’s case an open-water marina, and the bike and run disciplines completed on smart trainers and self -powered curved treadmills.

Hayden Wilde, center, celebrates his win at the Arena Games finals.

Paul Miller / Superleague Triathlon

Hayden Wilde, center, celebrates his win at the Arena Games finals.

The final was a three-stage affair, with the first and last stages featuring a swim (200m), bike (4km), run (1km) format, while the middle stage reversed that order to go run-bike-swim. Times are then added together to find the winner.

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Lagging behind on the opening swim did not matter for Wilde, who made ground when French leader Aurelien Rapheal blew his eight-second lead by taking a wrong turn at the transition.

Taking to the front of the bike leg, the New Zealander was then in great touch on the run, finishing the stage in 11 minutes and 58 seconds – four seconds clear of Great Britain’s Alex Yee and a big 17 seconds ahead of third-placed German Justus Nieschlag.

On the reverse format second leg Wilde led the run and then got to a seven-second advantage on the bike. Yee began eating into the Kiwi’s lead in the water and passed him with 50 meters to go, while Nieschlag put on the afterburners to take the stage by one second from Yee, with Wilde a further second back in 12:22.

Stage three was a battle of two races in one – the Singapore stage win, and also the World Championship title.

It also featured a pursuit format, so Wilde was handed a three-second advantage to start the swim, and going into the bike he still managed a two-second lead on Yee and seven on Nieschlag.

Hayden Wilde has started his season in brilliant fashion.

Superleague Triathlon

Hayden Wilde has started his season in brilliant fashion.

Powering on the smart trainer, the Kiwi burst eight seconds clear of Yee at the halfway mark, then by the end of the bike it was a whopping 15 seconds, and barring disaster on the run, the title was his.

And indeed Wilde was untroubled in a final leg that was run at a relentless speed. He finished in 12:13 to hold off both Yee (10 seconds behind) and Nieschlag (27 seconds) to deliver a statement win.

Fellow Kiwi Trent Thorpe was 10th in the Singapore final, with times of 12:38, 13:01 and 13:03.

Yee claimed overall championship honors (694 points) ahead of Nieschlag (678), with Wilde’s 500 points on debut seeing him place fifth overall.

Wilde now turns his attention to next weekend’s World Triathlon Series opener in Yokohama, Japan.

The 24-year-old Tauranga-based Whakatane athlete has the lofty goal this year of competing at July’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in not just triathlon but also the 5000m.

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