Last year's champion Leon Griffin is looking to finish off his season on a high by claiming his third Ironman 70.3 Shepparton crown.MARC MCGOWAN November 15, 2012 4:50am
Leon Griffin didn’t need long to decide what to do with Ironman World Championships officials’ last-minute offer for him to compete in the sport’s most prestigious event.
Bendigo’s Griffin, 32, has never contested the race, which brings together the world’s best professional and age-group ironman competitors in Kona, Hawaii, each October.
But the reigning Ironman 70.3 Shepparton champion didn’t want to do it that way.
‘‘I still haven’t got to Kona and I would love to get to Kona next year,’’ Griffin said.
‘‘I was offered the last spot in the field, but my preparation would have been compromised and it wouldn’t have been worth it.
‘‘I could go and finish the race and maybe come 25th, but that’s not what I’m in it for.’’
Griffin, who spent the past year as a professional triathlete again, said among his goals was at least a top-10 finish at Kona, or even a placing on debut, but achieving that would require an ideal preparation.
‘‘I’m pretty sure if I had done it I would have written off the rest of my season and not been able to defend races like this race in Shepparton, which is important to me,’’ he said.
‘‘Another goal would be to win three Shepparton races and, hopefully, that’s the first one I can tick off this weekend.’’
Griffin also won in Shepparton in 2008, before the event received 70.3 status and was still known as the Shepparton Half Ironman.
He managed to avoid the drama rivals Matty White, Ollie Whistler and Matt Bailey endured in last year’s race, when they accidentally — but illegally — cut part of the course and saved about 30 seconds.
That trio eventually served a five-minute penalty for the action, as Griffin went on to win in three hours, 51 minutes and 27 seconds — well ahead of Monty Frankish (4.03:13) and Luke Whitmore (4.04:40).
Griffin has not won a race since, although he has finished second on multiple occasions, including at Ironman San Juan Puerto Rico 70.3 and Ironman 70.3 Timberman.
He based himself in Boulder, Colorado while he raced on the tough United States triathlon circuit.
‘‘I would like to win a couple of big ironmans and some more half ironmans. I want to consistently win some of those,’’ Griffin said.
‘‘But being able to be 100 per cent self-sufficient and being able to pay your bills and mortgage and make it a profession (is the major goal).’’
Griffin said a third Shepparton win on Sunday would be a “perfect” ending to his season, but he was also looking forward to seeing the ‘‘passionate’’ Ironman 70.3 Shepparton organisers again.
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