LAUNCESTON triathlete Jacob Birtwhistle endured a bike crash, a time penalty and even a suspected broken finger but still managed to pick up a sixth- placed finish in the junior world championships in London.
"That didn't go according to plan, that's for sure," said a frustrated, bloodied and mud-splattered Birtwhistle after the sprint in Hyde Park.
"Whatever could have gone wrong did go wrong. I crashed on the first lap of the bike and also suffered a penalty, for what I'm not sure."
The 18-year-old crashed on the first lap of the 20-kilometre bike course and later learned his 10-second penalty was for leaving his wetsuit outside of his designated gear-box.
Undeterred, Birtwhistle managed to catch up with the leading group on the rain-affected course to clock an overall time of 52:28 behind victorious European champion Dorian Coninx, of France (51:57), and Scottish pair Marc Austin (52:00) and Grant Sheldon (52:01).
"A disappointing result but there are still so many positives to take away," added the former Riverside primary and high student. "You ain't seen nothing yet!"
Fresh from the success of fellow Launceston triathletes James Hodge and Joe Gambles in Singapore and the US this month, Birtwhistle had been in a confident mood and his coach Kim Gillard said his misfortune almost certainly cost him a medal.
"He's by far the strongest runner there but had to do a lot of work to catch up," Gillard said.
"He had a great swim, which is his weakest leg and after his crash did really well to get back up with the leaders.
"If it was not for that penalty he would have been right in the mix and that would have really frustrated him out on the course.
"But I think this is definitely a step in the right direction. He would have learned a massive amount from his first world champs and he's got to look at the positives which were that he did an awesome swim, ride and run.
"This will only make him stronger for next year when I'm sure he will make sure his wetsuit is in the box."
The first Tasmanian home in this year's Launceston Ten, Birtwhistle was being watched by his parents Alan and Carmen and remains hopeful of making the Australian team for either the 2014 Commonwealth Games or 2016 Olympics.