LAUNCESTON triathlete Jacob Birtwhistle has pulled off the biggest victory of his career, beating a quality field to win the men's triathlon at the Australian Youth Olympics Festival in Sydney yesterday.
The talented 17-year-old grabbed gold after a fantastic effort in all three legs of the men's triathlon, finishing in a time of 55:03, in hot conditions around 40 degrees.
He beat home Australian teammate Luke Willian who won silver in (55:20) and Britain's Marc Austin (55:33) who took bronze.
``I'm very happy to win the race today because it was a quality field and it is a great stepping stone to the world championships later this year and I was really pleased to get the win,'' Birtwhistle said.
``It's by far the biggest and most important race I've won.''
Birtwhistle said he shrugged off the effects of a cold in the week before the race and felt surprisingly good on the day despite the heat.
``I was a bit worried early on in the swim when I was a bit down and had to work hard on the bike to get on in the first lap but after that I felt nice and relaxed and good for the rest of the way.
``I had to dig deep on the run but was able to get the win still.
``On the last lap of the run, I decided my best chance to win was to sit and kick and outsprint Luke at the end.
``With about 300 metres to go up the hill I put in a bit of a surge and gapped him and was able to run away with it from there.''
Birtwhistle's parents, Carmen and Alan, watched their son compete and were justifiably happy and impressed with his performance.
The Launceston College student continues to juggle triathlons and athletics, showing exceptional talent in both - he is an Australian junior 1500m and 3000m track champion and world cross-country championship gold medallist.
He will compete in the AYOF triathlon teams' relay today and then move on to the Australian junior triathlon series.
Birtwhistle has also been named in the elite open starting list for the Oceania sprint triathlon championships in a couple of weeks time.
Meanwhile, Launceston cyclist Lauren Perry continued her outstanding summer's form by winning a gold medal at the Youth Olympics in the women's 3000m team pursuit.
The 16-year-old multiple junior track champion teamed with Australian flag bearer Kelsey Robinson and Josie Talbot.
Their Australian gold team qualified fastest for the final and then lapped an Australian green team in a winning time of 3 minutes, 30.35 seconds, with Malaysia third.
Perry won the Launceston Cycling Classic women's race and the Devonport Wheelrace last month.