LAUNCESTON triathlete Jake Birtwhistle found the going tough but was happy with his effort in finishing seventh in the elite men's race at Saturday's Devonport Triathlon which doubled as the Australian and Oceania Olympic distance championships.
He also claimed the silver medal in the under-23 men's category.
It was the 19-year-old, dual national junior champion's first foray into elite competition and only his second-ever hit- out over the longer Olympic distance - his previous a low-key Bridport event with a different level of competition.
"It was a hard race but that is what I'd been expecting stepping up to race with the bigger guys," Birtwhistle said.
"I'm happy with my results and I think I went pretty well considering it was my first time and stepping over the Olympic distance as well.
"The longer distance made it pretty hard and I was suffering at the back end especially but I was happy with my swim and reasonably happy with my bike as well."
He said he was not troubled by a pre-race soft tissue injury to the foot which had threatened to sideline him.
"It had cleared up by Friday," he said.
"It was the first time I had run since the weekend before - but it was all good and I didn't feel it at all."
Birtwhistle said he would continue to compete over the shorter sprint distance as well as longer Olympic triathlons and expected to build on his Devonport result with more training and experience during the remainder of the season.
His focus will be on training with his Woollongong Wizards group for the next few weeks before his next competitive hit- out at Mooloolaba followed possibly by overseas competition.
"My coaches were pretty happy with how I went and for them as well it was a guide to see where I'm at and what needs to be done.
"I wasn't really going into the race hoping for an under-23 podium so it was good to get that result as well."
Race winner Aaron Royle is part of Birtwhistle's new training group and he said it was beneficial for him to train with the elite."It's good to get into a more competitive environment to everyday training and be pushed by the other guys and I'm kind of learning off the best so I'm really enjoying it."