The women’s race in the 2018 Port of Tauranga Half is shaping up as an intriguing trans-tasman tussle with top Australia triathlete, Melissa Hauschildt heading to these shores to take on two-time defending champ – New Zealand’s Amelia Rose Watkinson.
Watkinson has been the country’s dominant long-distance triathlete in recent years winning 11 Half Ironman titles internationally, and the last two NZ Half Ironman Champs. She has started the last two years with comprehensive wins in the Port of Tauranga Half.
This year she faces a tough challenge from Melissa Hauschildt, who is in a rich vein of form. She won the Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship in November and backed this up with a December win in the Sunsmart Ironman, Western Australia, although the swim leg was cancelled at this event due to shark concerns.
These results were even more remarkable given that Hauschildt was returning from major surgery and only resumed training in October last year.
Hauschildt has an extensive background in athletics. Her success in the sport includes a Silver Medal in the 3000m steeplechase at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and two bronze team medals at the World Cross-country Champs.
She made the transition from professional athlete to professional runner at the end of 2010 with her storied career continuing. She became the first female to win the 70.3 World Title twice in 2011 & 2013, and has won 3 World championships, 12 Australia championships, and 26 Half Ironman titles.
Hauschildt has a huge 2018 lined up with three world championships on the radar - the ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Championships in Denmark in July, the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa in September, and the Ironman World Championships at Kona in October.
She wants to maintain her fitness through the summer, hence her trip to New Zealand and upcoming battle with Watkinson. The last time these two triathletes met was at the Asia-Pacific 70.3 Champs in Western Australia last November with Hauschildt winning that event, and Watkinson finishing third.
Hauschildt said – “I’m feeling good and feeling fit so hopefully I can continue on with some good racing through our summer. The Port of Tauranga Half will be my first race for 2018. I hope to have a great race here to set my year up well.”
The 2018 Port of Tauranga Half starts at 7.30am on Saturday, January 20 at Pilot Bay, Mount Maunganui.