Teen in Ironman berth
A young multisports competitor has achieved his wildest dreams by qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas.
Shotara Hashimoto, 18, qualified for the event by coming third in his age division in Auckland's inaugural Ironman 70.3 on January 20.
Ironman 70.3 is also known as the half ironman and is longer than an Olympic triathlon, covering 113 kilometres or 70.3 miles.
Sho completed the event with his father Hide, elite triathlete Sam Warriner and nine other members of the Whangarei Triathlon Club.
Club member Mike Hardiman has also qualified for the world championships in the 40 to 44 age group.
Sho says he couldn't believe it when he qualified, as he thought he would need to be much faster. Just 50 of the 1000 competitors qualified.
"It's unreal, it's not realistic that I could qualify. I never thought that I could," he says.
But his time of 6hr 36min shaved three minutes off his personal best, despite him crashing during the bike section.
He crashed into a wayward cone but fortunately neither he nor his bike were hurt.
The incident made him more cautious during the cycling but perhaps left him some energy for a good run.
Sho is no stranger to such adversity. Before his first half ironman in late 2011, he had two accidents but he refused to pull out and ended up being the youngest competitor to complete the race.
Sho now plans to approach businesses for sponsorship to the Las Vegas event in September.
He has come a long way from the shy 10-year-old who migrated to New Zealand from Japan.
"I didn't want to come to New Zealand because I had my friends there and I couldn't speak English at all, I couldn't event write ABC," he says.
The former Tauraroa Area School student just completed NCEA Level 3 and has applied to enter the navy.
Multisports is unlike any other sport because it is not all about winning, he says.
"With triathlon you don't have to be first - just competing and completing it is important."
Sho says Hide is his training partner but everyone at the Whangarei Triathlon Club gives him motivation to get faster.
He now plans to complete a full ironman before turning his attention to the world championships, where he hopes to set another personal best.