Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Kiwi triathlete Ainsley Thorpe eyes Olympic redemption for COVID-wrecked campaign

Triathlete Ainsley Thorpe and her family watched her teammates from the sideline at Birmingham, as New Zealand narrowly missed out on the Commonwealth Games podium.

A fourth-placed finish in the mixed team relay event ended the triathlon programme at the Games - a campaign ruined by COVID-19.

The 24-year-old tested positive the night before flying out from a training camp in Spain to England.

"I did the PCR test the night before, packed everything and was, like, positive... I didn’t expect it," Thorpe explained.

She was stranded in Spanish isolation and arrived in the England the same day she was due to contest the women's individual race.

"I was probably just negative on race day, but it was too risky from the medical side to push for the race."

Thorpe recovered in time for the mixed event, but wasn't selected, due to her limited preparation.

"I was allowed to do relay, but didn’t get selected for the team, which I was expecting, having COVID so soon before the race."

Thorpe almost didn’t come at all, but she did and had an almost complete Commonwealth Games experience.

Nicole van der Kaay in action at Birmingham
Nicole van der Kaay in action at Birmingham. Photo credit: Photosport

"I wasn’t sure if I was allowed in village or hotel by myself, but they did everything they could to get me into village asap, so I got to experience pretty much everything except the race."

Her parents made the trek over from New Zealand, fuelling her motivation to get to the Paris Olympics to make up for lost time.

"It makes you more motivated for the next one - two years to Paris is not long so well keep building to that."

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