Whanganui teenager Hunter Gibson has struck gold at the Suzuki National Schools Triathlon Championships in Nelson this week.
On Monday the 14-year-old Year 9 Wanganui Collegiate athlete won the Under-14 individual boy's triathlon before producing and excellent performance to finish fourth in his age group individual aquathon which included a swim/run section only. Gibson then lent his weight to the WCS mixed team tag relay effort on Tuesday where he was the anchor.
Under the guidance of coach Gareth Wright, Gibson came out of the 400m swim leg with the leading bunch in fourth place, but soon put the pressure on in the 11.5km cycle leg.
"Hunter took the lead soon after the first bike lap," Wright said.
"He then stretched that out to a 1 minute 15 second lead and pretty much held that most of the way. He completed the 3km run leg comfortably to win by about a minute without really being challenged.
"He had the race won from the cycle leg, really."
Wright said the youngster had put in a lot of work since finishing third in the Whanganui Under-13 championship last year.
"He improved his swim style through the school swim team and spent quite a lot of time down at the velodrome with the Wanganui Cycle Club, while also training with the Wanganui Triathlon and Multisport Club," Wright said.
In the team tag triathlon Gibson was forced to step up to Under-16 level with his WCS team racing alongside the Under-19 athletes. Each athlete was required to swim 250m, cycle 7.5km then run 1km.
As the WCS anchor Gibson made up lengths staying with the leading bunch after the 250m swim and cycle legs before finishing the race just 5m behind the podium finishers.
"This was against under-16 and under-19 year olds," Wright said.
The WCS Under-19 team finished out of the money, while none of Gibson's schoolmates won a spot on the individual podium.
However, Tori Bendall from Nga Tawa won bronze in the Under-16 aquathon and finished fifth in the individual triathlon. She then teamed with schoolmate Georgina Bryant to claim silver in the mixed team tag event with two Palmerston North boys.