Shepparton's Jacinta Collier is returning to form after a lengthy absence from triathlon, finishing first past the post in yesterday evening's Sunset Series race.By Marc McGowan
Jacinta Collier’s triathlon return is gathering steam.
The one-time Ironman Hawaii competitor and 2006 Gatorade Triathlon Series champion relocated to Shepparton at the start of the year.
Collier, 25, has since become a Shepparton Tri Club member and was first to cross the line in last night’s second race of the annual Sunset Series at Shepparton’s Aquamoves.
Female competitors started seven minutes before their male counterparts and there was also a handicap system in place to even the competition.
Only Chris Pye (25 min 27 sec), Wade Hicks (25:31), Anthony Nicolaci (26:01) and Rodney Bell (26:07) bettered Collier’s 27:24 effort in the 250
But the handicap system — based on results in the opening race of the series — changed the race rankings, with Jo Turner, Erin McHugh and Collier filling the women’s podium and Anthony Edwards, Hicks and Dale Mountjoy rounding out the men’s top three.
Teenager Matilda Terry (28:25), Leanne Rawson (29:00), McHugh (29:12) and Turner (31:03) were the next-fastest women on times behind Collier.
Collier, like race one, led the field out of the water and off the bike, but this time managed to hold off Terry on the run.
‘‘I don’t really like coming second, because I’m a little bit competitive,’’ Collier said. ‘‘It’s a good challenge. I didn’t really know (where Terry and McHugh were); I just focused on running and keeping going.
‘‘I’ve done a bit more training in the last two weeks (since race one), so I’ve improved a lot.’’
Collier, whose sisters Jennifer and Fiona also compete, spent three years away from the sport after placing sixth in the women’s 18-to-24 age group at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in 2009.
She works as an Aquamoves lifeguard and is also a casual relief teacher.
Collier will contest the Geelong Long Course Triathlon in February before making her ironman comeback in Ironman Melbourne a month later.
Pye, 29, engaged in a thrilling five-way battle for men’s time honours with Hicks, Nicolaci, Bell and Darren Green (27:46).
They came off the bike within seconds of one another, but it was Pye who emerged first from transition and the Shepparton mechanic never looked back.
‘‘There was some good pressure out there and it lifts you to a new level,’’ Pye said. ‘‘I’ve been going pretty well in transitions for a while. I wouldn’t say I was confident (at the start of the run leg), but I was hopeful.
‘‘It’s been coming for a little while, but everyone’s got their ups and downs at the minute because everyone’s training for bigger things, so it comes down to everyone’s training load on the night.’’
Pye will also compete in the Geelong Long Course Triathlon, but ruled out an ironman appearance this season.
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