AFTER hundreds of kilometres in the pool, thousands on a bicycle and an incalculable number of kilometres pounding the road, Murwillumbah's Jeff Collier is a triathlon world champion.
Mr Collier returned from New Zealand yesterday after his triumph at the Auckland Triathlon World Championships where he took out the 50 to 54 age category and defeated the event's favourites New Zealanders Scott Molina and Rick Wells.
Mr Collier completed his 1500metre swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run in a winning time of 02:08:43 and said he was ecstatic to have won the mantle of 'world's best'.
Organisers called the contest between the two local favourites in Mr Collier's age group "the biggest showdown of the competition", which made Mr Collier's surprising win in front of a large parochial crowd even more gratifying.
Mr Collier said the Auckland course was well-suited to his technical abilities, which allowed him to conquer the hilly circuit in first place.
Preparing for the race in the Tweed had worked well for Mr Collier due to the similarity in terrain although the water temperature in Auckland Harbour was not quite to his liking.
"The water temperature was not much higher than 14 degrees and the harbour was quite choppy.
"Experience and the right mental attitude helped overcome the difficult terrain," Mr Collier said.
"It's also very important to get the nerves under control because once they take over, you lose a lot of energy."
Mr Collier is the leading light of the Tweed Valley Triathletes and is a mentor to the club's members.
"I don't mind being a role model for the club and mentor the entire spectrum of the club's membership, from young to old," Mr Collier said.
His entry into last Monday's event was Mr Collier's fourth world championships after coming second in Mexico in 2003, second in Hawaii in 2005 and ninth on the Gold Coast in 2009 in a variety of age categories.
Although the Tweed's focus deservedly goes to Mr Collier, he will have to share the glory with Tweed paratriathlete Bill Chaffey who took out the world championship title in his category.
Following his victory in New Zealand, Mr Collier plans to relax and will take a break in Thailand where he and his wife intend to complete about 300 kms on their bikes in the next few weeks.