Kris Gemmell won't be choking back tears during tomorrow's ITU series world cup final in Auckland, but it will still be an emotional time for him.
It is his final world triathlon series event as he is retiring from competing in the shorter format.
Gemmell has spent the past few weeks preparing at home in Palmerston North for the event he won last year.
"It's always an emotional time," he said. "Last year, no doubt about that. I still went out to race like I wanted to race. I'm going to do that again.
"There's some emotion around the event being my last ITU event. I can still control that in a positive way and still remain aggressive."
Last year was an important win for him, as it was following a year dogged by illness and was just after his cousin Tim had been diagnosed with a brain tumour.
"I'm looking forward to it," Gemmell said. "It's a pretty special race. Not often you have a world championship in your home country and for it to be one of my last ITU races, it's going to be pretty special after winning on the course last time. I've got a bit of confidence."
Being his last ITU event, he said there was a bit extra on the line but he enjoyed the pressure it created and it gave him something else to to focus on.
It would be "an early Christmas present" if he could repeat last year's performance over the 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run through hilly, downtown Auckland.
But it will be tough against a stellar field including London Olympic bronze medallist Jonathan Brownlee and silver medallist Javier Gomez.
"The top 19 of the top 20 in the world are here," Gemmell said. "Everyone wants to be here, it's the world cup grand final . . . All the cookies are on the table. I'm looking to go up there and have a great race. Come back into the same shape as this time last year and hopefully the course helps me."
He hasn't decided what he will do once he's hung up his triathlon boots, but was considering competing in the longer Ironman format, with the world championships in Kona, Hawaii, and 70.3 world title in Las Vegas in the United States tempting options.
The 35-year-old was also keen to help out with Triathlon New Zealand's high performance programme, potentially as a coach.
"I've got a lot going on. I tried to throw my hat in the ring for a lot of things like being involved with the high performance programme. I think I've got a lot to offer."
He applied for the high performance director's job for Triathlon New Zealand but lost out to former British high performance boss Graeme Maw.
Gemmell was still hopeful of picking up another position within the high performance programme.
He has been competing since his first world cup in Auckland in 1995, so Gemmell may find himself at a loose end once he retires, not having the constant travel to world cups and building up every four years for the Olympics.
"I think no matter what I do, I'll be restless. I'm restless now."
The elite women were to race in the world cup final today, while the men are tomorrow, starting just after 1pm.
- © Fairfax NZ News