Tauranga triathlete Anneke Jenkins has picked up one of the most prestigious awards given out by Tri New Zealand.
The 23-year-old was awarded the 2012/13 Tri NZ Annual Award for Emerging Talent yesterday and she is currently in Europe training and racing. She is coached by respected Tri NZ accredited coach Brendon Downey, who is based on Australia's Gold Coast.
Jenkins is a relative newcomer to the sport. She is a former breaststroke specialist who swam at World Cup level, and has already made vast improvements in her first year in the sport as she showed in the Takapuna round of the Contact Tri Series in February, posting one of the quickest run splits on the day to earn a spot on the podium.
Triathlon Tauranga president, Adam Hazlett, says it is fantastic that she has won this award.
"She has done very well, very quickly and has committed fully to her training over the last 18 months and racing over the summer. She has a strong swimming background and has developed her running and cycling.
"She has more dedication than most athletes I have worked with and when she puts her mind to achieving something, she gives it one hundred per cent commitment.
"She has the potential to go all the way to the Olympics level."
The nominations for Jenkins showed she had clearly made an impact this summer, with a common theme being her commitment and character.
Tri New Zealand have received supportive messages about Jenkins over the summer.
"Initially, triathlons were just for fun [for Jenkins], however her natural talent, competitive nature and drive for excellence meant she was extremely good at them, prompting her to seek a coach and make a real go of it.
"She's such an inspiration to other aspiring athletes and a great role model.
"She would be a sponsor's dream as she is a people person, and would be a fantastic mentor to younger aspiring triathletes.
"Anneke is an amazingly committed athlete who puts 150 per cent into the focus of anything she wants."
Runners-up to Jenkins were promising young triathletes Nicole van der Kaay (Taupo) and Tayler Reid (Gisborne), both of whom won the Under-19 titles at the 2013 National Schools Triathlon Championships in Pegasus, Christchurch.
The award for Jenkins is part of the roll out of Triathlon New Zealand's annual awards, with announcements to be made in the coming days to recognise Coach of the Year, Club of the Year, Disabled Athlete of the Year and Outstanding Contribution to Triathlon in Schools.
Claire Hannan (Wellington) has already been voted Technical Official of the Year and Hillary Wicks the Age Group World Championship athlete of the year.