LAUNCESTON triathlete Jake Birtwhistle confirmed his rising talent in the international arena by taking out a world title at the ITU duathlon championships in Spain at the weekend.
The Wollongong-based athlete dominated the junior men's race to win the gold medal while Queensland's Gillian Backhouse grabbed silver in the elite women's division in Pontevedra.
Australia's number one junior triathlete and former IAAF world cross-country representative, Birtwhistle dominated the 5km run, 20km bike and 2.5km run format.
The former Riverside High School and Launceston College student stormed home over the final 2.5km run to take the gold medal in a time of 54 minutes, 15 seconds to beat Spain's Antonio Serrat Seoane (54:32) with Gustav Iden, of Norway, a close-up third (54:36).
The brilliant runner and this year's under-20 Zatopek 3000m champion in Melbourne, Birtwhistle was just four seconds off the pace after the 20km bike but produced the run of the day to split 7:19 for the final 2.5km run to beat the Spaniard by 17 seconds with Iden just four seconds back.
Birtwhistle made the move from Launceston to join former New Zealand coach Jamie Turner's international squad, the Wollongong Wizards, which contains Commonwealth Games representatives Ryan Bailie and Aaron Royle and ITU World No.1 Gwen Jorgensen (US), late last year.
He is racing with the Turner stable in Europe for international experience and as preparation for this year's ITU World Junior Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in August.