Blair Jordan wasn't evensupposed to be doing yesterday's Surfbreaker sprint triathlon _ his coach wants him on a strict diet of Olympic-distance events for the next 12 months.
As an appetiser, however, Jordan's win yesterday wasperfect. Hungry for a big year in 2007, the former Mount Maunganui triathlete chewed up the rest of the field and eased home 90secs in front of his nearest challenger.
"I've got a big focus on next year _ it's going to be a long year and there's a few things I want to achieve," the 24-year-old, now based in Auckland, said.
"Beijing is definitely on the list _ it's going to be a big challenge and it's going to be pretty hard to get there. I wasn't even meant to be racing this but I snuck down and did it anyway. It's nice to come down and have a good race."
The engineer is about to quit his fulltime job and head off chasing the ITU World Cup series, hoping to get enough points to qualify for the world championships in August and the Olympic selection race.
His sole ITU race to date was a 37th-placing in New Plymouth earlier this year _ but after only taking up the sport seriously two years ago and finishing fourth at the Surfbreaker a year ago, he's quick to learn.
"My swimming has been the worry but in New Plymouth I had a reasonable swim and came in with the chase pack, but managed to stuff around in transition enough that they were gone.
"That's where doing races like this helps with that learning, having a bit more experience can help pick up valuable seconds."
Jordan finished the 750m swim, 16km cycle, 5km run event yesterday in 51.36, ahead of Tinman winner Duncan Milne (Taupo), who crossed in 53.00. Another Taupo athlete, David Stutz, was third in 53.14. Veteran Tauranga triathlete Paul de Rijk was seventh overall.
The women's division was a race of two-thirds _ Gisborne teenager Bailey Elliot led comfortably coming off the bike, but a lingering knee injury kept her from attempting the run.
"I've been out for the last eight weeks, just swimming and cycling and slowly building up running," Elliot said.
"It's just too frustrating _ but I'm better to save myself up for the New Zealand trials in March. I even had to put my running shoes into a little transition box just so I wouldn't do it!"
It left the door open for 17-year-old Otumoetai College triathlete Nicola McKay, who finished in 61.45 and just held off fast-finishing Miriam Ellis (Auckland) and Tirau's Rebecca Kingsford. Another Tauranga teenager, Tracey Steens, was fourth.
"I didn't expect to win this _ I was just hoping for a top-10 finish," McKay said. "The sand run was really hard and I'm not too great at surf swimming but I enjoyed the rest of the run."
EVES SURFBREAKER RESULTS: Main Beach, Mount Maunganui (750m swim/16km bike/5km run):
Men: Blair Jordan (Auck) 51.36 1, Duncan Milne (Taupo) 53.00 2, David Stutz (Taupo) 53.14 3, Keegan Williams (Hamilton) 53.41 4, Todd Davidson (Auck) 54.02 5, Craig Torr (Tga) 54.05 6.
Women: Nicola McKay (Tga) 61.45 1, Miriam Ellis (Auck) 62.08 2, Rebecca Kingsford (Tirau) 62.13 3, Tracey Steens (Tga) 62.17 4, Meagan Moorhouse (Auck) 62.55 5, Tanya Lee-Parker (Rotorua) 64.24 6.
UCAN2 Triathlon: (375m swim/8km bike/2.5km run) 1st male Simon Miller (Mt Maunganui) 33.40, 1st female Lulu Fidler (Ohope) 40.14.
Duathlon: (2km run/16km bike/5km run) 1st male Rick Lowe (Tga) 55.07, 1st female Rachel Kingsford (Tirau) 61.02. UCAN2 Duathlon: 1st male Shane Lyons (Tga) 38.19, 1st female Pip Hall (Tga) 39.27.