JACOB Birtwhistle has added the Australian junior triathlon crown to his already impressive record and booked a trip to London for the world championships later in the year after winning at Devonport yesterday.
The 18-year-old from Launceston overcame difficulties in the swim and cycle legs before powering away to beat Matthew Baker, of New South Wales, and New Zealander Sam Ward.
The win came a fortnight after Birtwhistle became the Australian under-23 champion in a breakout performance at Geelong.
``It is fantastic to win on home soil and at the same time I've got my ticket to London,'' he said.
Yesterday's win has assured Birtwhistle of a place on the Australian team for the world junior triathlon championships in London in September as he continues to juggle his athletic career with the multisport event.
``Before London, I'll be going overseas to compete in the world junior cross-country championships in Poland,'' he said.
Birtwhistle had to endure a rugged swim in choppy conditions which, as a consequence, placed him further back in the cycle leg than he would have liked.
``I've never swum in surf like that before as I don't do much surf swimming,'' he said.
Birtwhistle was then caught in a large pack of riders which settled 40 seconds behind a breakaway group and admitted he had to work hard to gradually whittle down the lead.
``I would have preferred a smaller bunch of riders with everyone doing their turn and I probably did more work than I intended,'' he said.
In the lead pack was Baker, and Birtwhistle was aware that he would be difficult to catch.
But it was on his favoured run leg that Birtwhistle shone, and over the closing lap, he took over the lead and went on to win by 23 seconds.
Birtwhistle regards brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee from England as his idols in triathlon, and is looking forward to running on the same course in London where they took the gold and bronze medals at the Olympic Games last year.
Birtwhistle hopes to keep combining athletics with triathlons for as long as possible, but realises he'll have to make a choice some time in the future.
The Australian junior women's race was taken out by Western Australia's Jaz Hedegland who won by a just 10 seconds over New Zealand's Mikayla Neilson, with Holly Grice, of Queensland, holding on for third after making a courageous breakaway.