Waikato's newest world champion was looking at taking the day off school today as she recovered from yesterday's age group victory at the ITU World Triathlon Series grand finals in Auckland.
Hillcrest High School year 13 student Steffie Holcroft won the girls' 16-19 age group title in an all-New Zealand podium.
There were 45 finishers out of a field of 48 triathletes in the age group.
She follows in the footsteps of fellow Waikato triathlete Mikayla Nielsen, who won the world elite junior title last year in Beijing. Nielsen, 18, was forced out of this year's junior women's race in atrocious conditions on Sunday suffering from hypothermia while in the lead bunch on the run.
Holcroft, 17, took control of her race yesterday with a powerful 12km cycle leg after a strong swim that saw her fourth out of the water in 10 minutes 41 seconds.
But after blitzing the cycle field in 34:36 she had to fight the stitch and breathing difficulties on the run to hang on for a 12sec victory over fellow Kiwi Madeline Evans (Auckland), with Taupo's Nicole Van Der Kaay another 26sec back in third. Fourth-placed Australian Bonnie Atherton was the first non-Kiwi home.
"This was not expected at all. I just raced my hardest and couldn't do any better than that," Holcroft said.
"I had a really strong cycle, I felt good, it was my sort of course because I enjoy hills so it just went well for me.
"I had a good swim as well. I had a good starting position so that worked in my favour."
Holcroft said her breathing problems in the run were due to exercise-induced asthma which she often suffers in running, as well as general fatigue.
"I didn't know how far behind the other girls were but I just went as hard as I could.
"I had quite a few family members up there watching who were great support and all the other ones have been saying congratulations since so that's really cool to get their support."
She also finished third in her age group in the world aquathlon event last Wednesday, which was won by Van Der Kaay.
Now Holcroft is looking forward to a break next month before doing some races on the Contact Energy Tri Series in the summer, starting in December, and then planning her next steps in her fledgling multisport career.
"This is part of my journey so I'll just carry on training, do my best and see where it takes me."
In her last year at high school, Holcroft said she had no firm plans for next year, but on a more immediate note felt she might need to spend today recovering. "I think I'll take the day off."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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