Nelson in medal hat-trick

Nelson competitors came away with three medals at Saturday's Triathlon New Zealand Sprint Championships in Kinloch, then celebrated yesterday by taking fifth place of the mixed teams in the national team tag relay.

Tom Curtis, a Kenyan representative spending his third summer training in Nelson, took gold in M25-29, coming second overall of the 350 competitors and recording the fastest run time (17min 14sec) over a tough 5km course that included an element of cross country and a couple of tight little hills.

Jon Linyard gave his usual all-or-nothing performance over the 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run course, narrowly missing gold, but easily taking the silver medal in M40-44.

In M65-69, Peter Gibbs had to fight back from fifth out of the water to finish the hilly bike ride in second, only to be passed at the midpoint of the run. His silver wasn't secure until the last 100m of the run course on the shores of Lake Taupo.

Austrian triathlete Nathalie Birli has joined Curtis for some off-season training in Nelson and she shook off some of the side-effects of travel with a consistent performance in all three disciplines to place sixth in F20-24.

Nelson Tri Club member George Hilgeholt, currently of Auckland but building a house in Atawhai, showed he'll be a force to be reckoned when he settles in Nelson. The former triathlon coach of the year doesn't race often, but is usually unbeatable in age group racing. He confirmed his talent on Saturday, winning M65-69 with ease.

Andrew Bygraves, now of Wellington, had to stop on a steep descent after his bike developed speed wobbles. He carried on to finish tenth in M35-39.

Harrison Dean kicked off his campaign for selection in the elite division of September's world champs in London with a solid sixth place in the under-23 elite race, the steep hill on each lap costing him valuable seconds.

Dean hopes to consolidate that effort when he races on a flatter course in Geelong in Australia on Sunday, then he'll be back in Nelson for a solid four-week buildup to the national championships over the Olympic distance in Wellington in March.

In yesterday's team tag race, Curtis, Gibbs, Birli and Linyard combined in an exciting but lung-busting race where each member swam 300m, biked 6km, then ran 1800m before tagging the next in the team. Their combined time was 1hr 40min 13sec.

Sprint triathlon results: Harrison Dean 1.01.30 6 elite u-23, Tom Curtis 1.03.50 1 M25-29, Jon Linyard 1.05.49 2 M40-44, Nathalie Birli 1.17.05 6 F20-24, Andrew Bygraves 1.18.32 10 M35-39, George Hilgeholt 1.19.24 1 M65-69, Peter Gibbs 1.21.53 2 M65-69.