Sam Warriner's final Sovereign Tinman Triathlon could not have been scripted any better.
The 44-year-old defending champion sprinted down Pilot Bay's The Mall to a rapturous reception from the crowd to claim a record fifth Tinman title yesterday. It was a fitting way to end her career as a professional athlete where it all began for her.
"I have been a regular member of Tinman and have the Tinman 2004 light jacket still. That was the first time I won a serious event and I thought actually I can do it," Warriner said.
"I remember Stephen Sheldrake coming up to me and saying "hey Sam you could go a bit further in this sport". So for it to be my first real big win and then to finish here as well is very special.
"I have decided this was my last pro race. I will still be racing but will step down as a pro and just be an age-grouper," she said.
Warriner will focus more on the Sweat 7 coaching team she has established.
"Triathlon is such an individual sport, you need to make it about the journey. For my youngsters I am teaching them about how to train, how to race and how to win, and with my seniors it is about getting the best out of them," she said.
At the other end of the career spectrum, Matt Franklin, 22, from Auckland won his first men's Tinman title.
"I have done this event since I was a little kid. I got third a couple of years ago and got fourth last year," Franklin said. "I always wanted to win this one because I love this event, plus I am doing the Port of Tauranga Half so it is a good build into that.
"I led the swim though Jay (Wallwork) passed me in transition and I got a bit angry at the start of the bike and went a bit into the red zone. I knew I had the fitness to hold it all the way through and it was just great. It is probably one of the best wins of my career so far."
Triathlon Tauranga member Hannah Knighton, 15, won the female Sprint distance in 1:00:41, with tauranga's Ryan Young ( 54:12) third in the men's event.
Sovereign Tinman Triathlon, Pilot Bay:
Standard Distance (1500m swim, 36km bike, 10km run)
Men: Matt Franklin, 1:43:28, Alexie Petrie 1:45; 59, Jay Wallwork 1:46:03
Women: Sam Warriner 1:51:15, Tineke Stewart 1:55.10, Rebecca Fogarty 1:56:23