TWEED Heads product Melissa Rollison has won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Las Vegas at the weekend after blitzing the women's field by six minutes.
Rollison bravely battled severe blistering on her feet to take the win, after neglecting to put on socks after the swim.
The Commonwealth Games steeplechase silver medallist only started competing on the 70.3 circuit 12 months ago and has already won three events.
She has been a professional athlete for more than a decade, and was raging favourite heading into the race.
When she came off the bike less than four minutes behind Julie Dibens, the race was already decided.
Rollison was not the only Tweed-raised athlete in contention; Murwillumbah's Paul Matthews finished sixth in the men's event, an improvement on his 11th-place result last year.
Another Australian, Craig Alexander, won his second 70.3 world title by winning the men's event.
Rollison initially took up cycling to keep fit while she was getting over her various running injuries. Then she decided she would start doing some swimming, and that inevitably led to triathlon.
Dibens led through the initial parts of the swim but it was Leanda Cave who led out of the water, enjoying a five-second cushion over the 2009 Ironman 70.3 world champ. Dibens quickly went to the front though, and dominated the entire bike ride.
Behind her, Rollison was having a stellar ride and moved to second.
Rollison didn't realise she was as close as she ended up being at the end of the ride and flew through the transition, opting not to put on socks because she thought she'd need every second. Nothing could have been further from the truth - she had made up more than a minute of her deficit by the end of the first mile and was in the lead by mile three.
Dibens eventually dropped out of the race, leaving Karin Thuerig in second, a position she would hold onto until the finish line.
Rollison's 1:21:14 run split was more than enough to get her to the line well ahead of her competition (despite the frightening blisters she sustained thanks to the sans-socks approach) and net her a world championship title.
Thuerig got another world championship medal with her second-place finish, followed by Linsey Corbin, who provided the US with a spot on the podium.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.