Hayden Wilde: Background, career highlights, quotes

Despite being a relative newcomer to triathlon, Hayden Wilde has made quite the splash. Here's what you need to know about the young Kiwi

Hayden Wilde finishes third in the Olympic triathlon race at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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 he’s racing at the top on the World Triathlon Series…

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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.

Hayden Wilde takes part in a cross country race in his home country of New Zealand in 2020 (Credit: Joe Allison/Getty Images)

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 25 years old.

Hayden Wilde’s career highlights

Hayden Wilde performs in the bike leg at the World Triathlon race in Hamburg in July 2019 (Credit: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images)

 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.

The following month he finishes 13th in Leeds and, when the series rolls into Hamburg in early July, Wilde’s comfortable sixth place is his first top 10 in a WTS race.

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

Hayden Wilde (bronze) and British triathlete Alex Yee (silver) celebrate their podium places in the men’s triathlon race at Tokyo 2020 while winner Kristian Blummenfelt lies on the floor  (Credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

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.

June 2022: Wins his first WTCS 

In an action-packed sprint-distance Leeds WTCS, Wilde takes down Yee and Brownlee – by accident – on the bike and with it the first WTCS win of what promises to be a stellar career.

Two weeks later Yee gets revenge by outsprinting the Kiwi for gold in Montreal.

July 2022: Wins his second WTCS

Shows his true class by coming from 30secs down out of the swim to pick off his rivals one by one and take victory in Germany at WTCS Hamburg.

Three weeks later and he’s leading the 2022 Commonwealth Games… until Yee hunts him down on the 5km run and he has to serve a controversial 10sec penalty for a helmet infringement. A silver suffices, though.

September-October 2022: Storms the Super League Series

With his chief rival and defending champ Yee only racing the London leg of this year’s series, it’s Wilde’s to lose… which he doesn’t often.

And so it goes as he wins London, takes third in Munich then wins again in Malibu and Toulouse. One more race to go in Saudi Arabia and he takes third. It’s enough to win the overall title for a second consecutive year.

Hayden Wilde quotes

Hayden Wilde takes the win at Super League London in 2021 (Credit: Tom Shaw/Super League)

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.”

On his first WTCS win in Leeds: “One side was absolutely pumped to have won my first world series event the other was gutted for my friends and competitors. As I’ve said I’m truly sorry for being a part of the high-speed crash with @lixsanyee@dylanmccullough_ and @jonnybrownleetri I wish you all a very speedy recovery.”

On taking silver at the 2022 Commonwealth Games: “It is what it is and I’m super happy I did everything I could have done in the race. I’m proud of what I did, I didn’t leave anything to chance and yeah, it was a ripper!”

What’s next for Hayden Wilde?

He leads the 2022 World triathlon Series Standings by 118 points over Alex Yee. A top-two finish guarantees him the world title.

Beyond that, improving on his Olympic bronze will be at the forefront of his training focus.

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Top image credit: Wagner Araujo/World Triathlon