When Rotorua's Pauline Warbrick found out she had been selected to represent New Zealand at the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on the Gold Coast, she had to read the email four times to make sure it was true.

"I mean, how lucky am I, I get to compete next to the best in the world, that's what I love about this sport," Warbrick said.

"I am so humbled and proud to be representing not only New Zealand, but also Maori, Maori wāhine and my iwi Ngati Huia. But, more importantly, to be a role model to my nieces, nephews and my two children Kapua and Hiwa. I want them to keep the legacy alive in the whānau and to dream big, because it is possible and it can be done."

Warbrick will join more than 5000 athletes from 46 countries at the event, which includes races for the world's best elite and age group triathletes. She will race in the 45-49-year-old section.


"Each day brings a new focus and new results, so I am excited and ready to race. I have one job to do and that's to execute a good race, I won't get emotional until I see my whānau at the end, when I'm crossing the finish line.

"I'll hear them before I see them, I'm so lucky to have them all coming over including my cousins. If anyone hands me the New Zealand flag, damn skippy I'm going to throw it above my head. To me I already have my medal, that's the fern. But, right now I need to stay in the present moment and remain focused."

Her love for the sport was born at an IronMaori event in 2011.

"My whānau entered two teams. I was the swimmer and I can remember finishing and getting back out on course to support whānau members. I remember yelling out to my dad - who is in his 60s - and seeing other kaumātua who were doing the individual. It was at that moment I remember thinking 'there's no excuse, if these older people can do it, so can I', so I did and I haven't stopped."

She has worked her way up, completing longer and more challenging events but hit a speed bump in 2016 when she required double knee surgery.

"My rehab was long and hideous. I craved getting back in the water, on my bike and into my running shoes. I remember only being able to run for 45 seconds.

"I had to reset everything, it was the best thing I ever did, which included new goals. One, was to compete overseas and have a holiday with my family so I entered 70.3 Thailand. I lost my watch in that event, during the swim it was so aggressive, but it set me up for the race of my life. I was first female out of the water in my age group, dropped to seventh place on the bike and placed ninth overall in my age group so I was pretty stoked, especially being my first event back from injury.

"So I entered some events - Tinman and Kinloch hoping I would qualify [for the World Triathlon]. It's been my goal to represent New Zealand and wear the fern. I was absolutely elated when I read the email from Triathlon New Zealand saying I had been selected for both standard and sprint through roll-down."


Warbrick said a lot of people had helped her get to this point in her triathlon career.

"My parents for their sporting genes and competitiveness. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be the dedicated and competitive person I am today. My hubby has been the backbone behind this journey, who has always put me first, he's a giver, always giving his time to everyone.

"I've had awesome support and guidance from local swim coach Henk Greupink and my run buddy Trevor Ogilvie who is a legend himself, having also represented NZ in athletics.

"I also have a trainer and mentor in Tauranga who has come on board to support my journey and a good friend in Wellington, Ngarama Milner-Olsen, who helped me set the foundations right back in 2013 for triathlon. She has been instrumental in my development as a triathlete so I would like to acknowledge her for that, she's a top Maori triathlete."