One of triathlon’s rising stars, Hayden Wilde has already proved he can come up with the goods on the biggest stages after taking bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. Now it’s time for a few glory days on the World Triathlon Series…
Who is Hayden Wilde?
You would have thought that – being born in the North Island town of Taupo, home of Ironman 70.3 New Zealand – triathlon would have loomed large in the young life of Hayden Wilde. Not so.
As a kid, he played hockey and football before graduating to off-road events. A strong cross-country runner, at the age of 16 he became the youngest-ever winner of the Coast 2 Coast race in his homeland – a two-day multi-sport event involving kayaking. He was also a two-time XTERRA U19 world champion.
Wilde only took up road triathlon after watching Alistair Brownlee retain his Olympic title at Rio 2016, but his progress has been extraordinary swift, culminating with an Olympic medal of his own – this one, bronze – at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Along the way, he’s made an impression in World Triathlon competitions, both in World Cup and World Triathlon Series (WTS) format, as well as proving a fierce competitor in Super League. And, at 24, a healthy rivalry with his contemporary Alex Yee looks to be a fixture of WTS series for plenty of seasons to come.
The future is very bright for Hayden Wilde. Not only is he in clear possession of sporting chops, but he also has the determination to be a regular diner at triathlon’s top table.
It’s what has got him here so quickly, working as a landscape gardener to make ends meet. “I have never been given everything on a silver platter,” he explains. “I’ve had to fight to get into start lines and pay my way.”
How old is Hayden Wilde?
Hayden Wilde was born on 1 September 1997, making him 24 years old.
Hayden Wilde’s career highlights
November 2016: World title number three for the teenager
A sign of Wilde’s great promise comes at the Snowy Mountains ITU Cross Triathlon world championships when the young New Zealander takes victory in the 18-19 age group category. This he adds to the two XTERRA U19 world titles already in his possession.
June 2018: Mixing it with the big boys
In Sardinia, Wilde’s second place at the Cagliari ITU World Cup race gives him his first podium placing in an ITU elite race.
May 2019: Makes himself at home in the WTS ranks
Barely two years after converting to road triathlon, Wilde lines up at his first-ever WTS elite race in Yokohama. Although his 22nd place is unremarkable, his progress during the season is swift.
August 2019: Third in Tokyo puts the world on alert
To make sure his new WTS rivals are taking notice and glancing nervously over their shoulders, Wilde finishes third at the Tokyo ITU World Triathlon Olympic qualification event. Such a performance on the Olympic course bodes well for the actual Games.
August 2021: Third in Tokyo again, but it’s the real deal this time
The Tokyo Games might be delayed for a year because of the pandemic, but Wilde remembers the profile of the course well, replicating his third place from 24 months earlier. It’s just this time it earns the fist-pumping Kiwi an Olympic medal, behind Kristian Blummenfelt’s gold and Alex Yee’s silver.
September 2021: Top of the Super League podium in London
Wilde takes that Olympic form into the Super League Triathlon Championship Series, winning the first race in London. At the end of the month, he finishes second overall in the series, once again pipped by his great rival Yee.
December 2021: A title-winning return to the rough stuff
Wilde zips up his boots and goes back to his roots when he takes gold at the XTERRA World Championships in Maui. It’s his third XTERRA world crown, but his first as an elite athlete. It is, though, effectively a duathlon, with an additional run leg replacing the swim that’s cancelled due to dangerous conditions.
Hayden Wilde quotes
On his World Triathlon Series debut: “I knew the household names, but going to my first World Series was like, ‘Woah, these are the guys you watch on the TV…’”
On winning Olympic bronze in Tokyo: “It’s pretty unreal. That was definitely for my family – and my dad as well. He passed away 12 years ago and never got to see me race.”
On his XTERRA world title win in a recalibrated race that becomes a duathlon: “It’s awesome to come here and win it, but I still have unfinished business because I want to race here when it’s a triathlon. That gives me extra incentive to come back.”
What’s next for Hayden Wilde?
The world is this young man’s oyster. The obvious target is to aim for a maiden WTS race victory and to challenge for an overall podium placing.
The Commonwealth Games are also rapidly approaching. But one long-term eye will be on the Paris Olympics which, thanks to the effects of the pandemic, are just two years away.
Top image credit: Wagner Araujo/World Triathlon