Ali Hollington goes to the start of the Olympic distance triathlon at the World Age-Group Championships in Auckland on Monday as a reigning world champion.
The 48-year-old won the long distance title for the 45-49 age-group in Spain in July. And given her recent form she is among the favourites for Monday's race.
It will be her ninth appearance at a world triathlon championship - her fifth over the Olympic distance (1500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run).
A former England cross country and road running representative, it is the longer distances that she favours.
Besides two long distance world titles over the past three years, she has recorded a first and second in her age-group at Challenge Roth, the event of Ironman's franchise competitor, and a fourth at the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
But offering her extra hope for Monday is that her reputation as a "chronic, addictive, obsessive, over-trainer" has been tempered by no Ironman activity since late last year.
"The body is not fatigued," she said from Auckland yesterday as she prepared for the first event of the triathlon festival, the Aquathon (1km swim, 5km run), in which she later earned an age-group bronze medal.
Her unofficial coach Ken Maclaren said there was no discernible difference between Hollington's swimming and cycling now, to 20 years ago when she was an elite athlete.
"She's in great shape. She's in great form. She's got a good chance to win this and add it to the long distance [title]."
Several other Hawke's Bay athletes have podium chances with perhaps the most in-form being Bridget Lodge in the 25-29 age-group, and Naomi Fergusson in the 30-34 age-group. Both lowered the VLK Friendly Dental Long Course Duathlon record during the winter, before "The Alinator" came back from a winter in Europe to put her name in the book.
"You never quite know who's turning up," Hollington said of the World Champs.
- Residence: Tamatea, Napier
- Age-Group: 45-49
- World Championships: 1992, Muscoka, Canada, Olympic; 1993, Manchester, England, Olympic; 1993, Kona, Hawaii, Ironman; 1994, Wellington, New Zealand, Olympic; 2003, Queenstown, New Zealand, Olympic; 2010, Immenstadt, Germany, Long Distance, 1st in 45-49; 2010, Kona, Hawaii, Ironman, 4th in 45-49; 2012, Vitoria, Spain, Long Distance, 1st in 45-49
- Started triathlon: 1989.
- Career highlight: It's all good!
- Biggest influences: Ken Maclaren and the Hawke's Bay Multisport Club.
- Favourite athletes: Hawke's Bay's 2012 World Championship Ironman competitors, Brett Mudgway and John Moriarty.
- World Age-Group Championships goal: To improve on my time in the selection race.