Former local pupil wins silver in triathlon

Adam Hillis is ‘‘extremely happy’’ with his first foray into international triathlon competing, he says.

The former Gore High School pupil finished second in the 20-24-year age group at the World Triathlon Championships in Slovakia earlier this month.

His goal was to have a good race and enjoy the experience of racing internationally.

‘‘Having little idea of who I would be coming up against and the way racing in triathlon works, you often don’t know where you are in the field so can only focus on your own race.

‘‘To end the race on the podium was a dream result and something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.’’

He completed the race in just over four hours, and was about 18 minutes behind the winner.

Lining up against the best in the world was a ‘‘surreal feeling’’ which made him both nervous and excited before the race.

‘‘The wind had picked up, which made for a choppy swim around a 2km one›lap swim on the Danube River. ’’

The start of the swim was ‘‘manic’’ as more than 100 men were fighting for the front of the pack.

‘‘Thankfully for me, I found myself in a group of six or so and managed to get through the swim without getting in a tussle with the competitors.’’

Next came an 80km out-and-back bike ride along the roads.

‘‘The roads were flat but a large tailwind heading out and headwind coming back in meant it was important to reserve energy for the return leg of the bike.

‘‘I felt comfortable on the bike and was slowly catching riders ahead of me.’’

At the turn-around point, he knew he was near the front of the race.

‘‘It was hard to tell which competitors were in my age group, but it meant I just had to focus on myself and my performance.’’

When he started the run, which was four laps of just over 4km each, it took his legs about 200m to adjust.

‘‘With the temperature increasing, it was important to use the aid stations and keep the fluids on board.

‘‘The laps went by fast and the support the New Zealand team had was epic.’’

His sister Anna was a vocal supporter.

He remembered advice from Gore athletics coach Ricky Gutsell.

Gutsell used to tell him to focus on the runner ahead.

‘‘This worked wonders and I was slowly picking off people and the laps were getting quicker and the race was coming to an end.’’

Three-quarters through the run, he knew he was in second place.

‘‘This gave me motivation to keep pushing on, in hopes of catching the leader.’’