Rotorua's brightest young triathlete Oliver Shaw has claimed a world title, finished his university studies and is on to his next big challenge.
The 21-year-old has stepped into the professional ranks for the first time in his career, lining up in an off-road triathlon tomorrow in Australia.
"This is my first race as a professional. I am a little nervous to see how I am going to go this weekend.
"There are some quality athletes in the race ... so it will be cool to get an indication of where I am at right now and what I need to work on to be successful."
Shaw said he decided to become a professional after winning an Xterra 20 to 24-year-olds age-group world title last year in Hawaii.
"I finally accomplished what I had wanted to, in the age group ranks, and felt that I had improved enough to be competitive against most of the pros on the Xterra [world] circuit.
"Also, I finished my university study which means I can now invest nearly all of my time into training and racing," he said.
The triathlete has his eyes set on the Xterra World Tour this year, starting with the Xterra Great Ocean Rd race in Victoria tomorrow.
The Xterra World Tour is the most prestigious off-road triathlon series in the world, attracting some of the fittest athletes from across the globe.
Shaw said his short-term goal was to do Rotorua proud during next weekend's Xterra New Zealand Championship at Tikitapu (Blue) Lake. "Rotorua is definitely my main race for the early part of the season.
"I know the course so well and have trained on it countless times. I enjoy racing there and the atmosphere is amazing.
"To follow the likes of Scott Thorne, Richard Ussher, Hamish Carter and Terenzo Bozzone and win Xterra New Zealand would be amazing."
Shaw said it was an exciting year ahead for his first season as a professional.
"I am hoping to follow the Xterra World Tour through Europe and America this year competing in Xterra Switzerland, France and some of the Xterra USA series.
"I will also race a 70.3 [half Ironman] or two, leading up to Ironman 70.3 worlds in Las Vegas in September."
Shaw will be up against the likes of Ben Allen (Aus), Courtney Atkinson (Aus) and Rory Downle (GBR) in tomorrow's Xterra Great Ocean Rd race.