Tinman title to O'Grady

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As far as straightforward triathlon victories go, Graham O'Grady's demolition of the strong field assembled for the Craigs Investment Partners Tinman Triathlon held at Pilot Bay yesterday was as clear cut as it gets.

The 30-year-old from Taupo showed the form that gained him the 2011 Port of Tauranga Half Ironman, with a consummate lead-from-the-front performance to win in a time of 1:55:29.

He attacked the tricky swim leg in choppy conditions off Pilot Bay to gain an early ascendancy and never let up his advantage over the bike leg and the final spectacular run around the Mount base track.

James Bowstead, who won the event in 2008 and missed last year's Tinman through injury, was comfortably home in second place, with Mark Bowstead next home in third place.

O'Grady says the race went perfectly to plan and his preparation for the Port Of Tauranga Half in five weeks is just as he would like.

"I felt really strong out there today and got off to a good start in the swim leg which always helps and was able to keep the margin over James throughout the rest of the race," said O'Grady.

"I really enjoy this course and particularly the final leg around the base track of the Mount.

"I think they have done a great job at tidying it up because the surface was way smoother this time than in the past, and it makes it easier for us to be running on undulating, softer surface than pounding the roads like the rest of the course.

"The downhill sections give you a chance to rest your legs a bit and it is all looking good for the Port of Tauranga Half in January.

"It will be a tough field obviously, with the likes of Cameron [Brown] and Terenzo [Bozzone] competing, but I am feeling confident about my chances."

Bowstead says he felt good on the run leg but the leg is just not long enough to catch an athlete like O'Grady, with such a good lead of 1m 30s heading into the run.

"Yeah I thought possibly I could catch him but 10km you have to be running a lot quicker to make up a gap like that so realistically second place was all I had today.

"I am happy with that. It is the first race of the New Zealand season and there are some big races coming up so I think it is really good to do this race to get back into the routine of it.

"Of course one of the big reasons I did this race is to come back here and get familiar with the course ahead of the Half Ironman.

It has been a couple of years since I did it and I think the field will be one of the strongest for many years.

"I can think of five or six guys who on their day can win and it will be interesting to see how guys approach it with the big race in Auckland two weeks later."

Confusion reigned in the final stages of the women's race when the surprise winner wearing a wetsuit adorned with Endsley US, turned out to be Amelia Rose Watkinson from Auckland.

It turns out Watkinson was a late entrant and competed in borrowed gear. The change clearly did her no harm, as she streaked away to win ahead of the more fancied athletes, such as Hannah Lawrence, who was runner-up to Jo Lawn at the Port of Tauranga Half in January.

Watkinson was making her Tinman debut and found the swim leg a real challenge in cold, windy conditions.

"I am definitely not a swimmer but I got to the front which was great because it gave me a chance to play with the waves rather than other people's feet.

"I prefer the half and standard distance, as well as hills, rather than flat, but I thought I would give it a go and work on my weaknesses which we are told to do.

"I am looking forward to coming back to Mount Maunganui in January for the half."

The Tinman is far greater than just an elite event.

This year, 50 corporate teams entered the team's challenge, 10 more than last year, and there were competitors raising money for charity or overcoming physical adversity to compete.

One of the most popular competitors was Te Puke Police Senior Sergeant Deirdre Lack, who was seriously injured with multiple fractures after a gruesome car accident two years ago.

Her bravery touched many people who lined the course to cheer home all the athletes who took on the now iconic Tinman challenge.

- Hamilton News

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