Family and friends proud of bronze medal winner Wilde

Source: 1News

While many in Whakatāne watched with glee as their very own Hayden Wilde crossed the line in the men's triathlon to win bronze and New Zealand's first medal at the Tokyo Olympics, others were left reflecting on past decisions.

Among the friends and family gathered to watch the race from the quiet Bay of Plenty town yesterday was Wilde's ex-girlfriend, who had one message for him after he claimed the bronze medal:

"I regret breaking up with you!" she joked. 

Hayden Wilde displays his bronze medal after the men's triathlon in Tokyo.

But the 23-year-old has moved on, telling 1 NEWS presenter Simon Dallow he planned to spend his evening catching up with his girlfriend over the phone.

"I think I’ll just be calling my girlfriend who’s actually in Spain at the moment. She was up in the early hours of the morning watching the race," Wilde said.

So while the old flame seems unlikely to be reignited, Wilde's ex-girlfriend was still extremely proud of him.

"I'm so proud of Hayden, all the work he’s obviously done to get there is amazing. I went to primary school with him and he’s grown so much and I’m real proud," she said.

Wilde's mother remembered the physical transformation in her son as he began to excel at sport.

"Hayden as a youngster used to like sausage rolls and pies and curl up on the couch and watch TV. That’s what he did every day after school and play video games. He really only did other sport because his older brothers did," Sarah told 1 NEWS.

"He was a comfortable little boy who likes sausages, now look at him."

Older brother Hamish had the same recollections, recalling Hayden as a "small, chubby boy" in his younger years.

"He never had that thing to him until the last few years. Covid was a massive thing for him as he was able to improve on his swim and he tried to qualify for New Zealand in the 5000m as well and that was simply to improve his last 5000m [in the triathlon]," Hamish said.

Wilde now has some time to recover before the mixed team relay on Saturday morning.

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