BACK-to-back victories for Ali Day at the prestigious Coolangatta Gold triathlon has propelled the Kiama ironman into elite company.
The 23-year-old claimed his second straight victory at the October 20 event, which made him only the third male athlete to claim multiple Coolangatta Gold titles in the race's 25-year history, along with five-time winner Caine Eckstein and two-time victor Guy Leech.
"It was a very surreal and special feeling to win," former Warilla-Barrack Point Surf Club member Day said.
"Winning once I thought was pretty amazing, but to do it two years in a row is something else.
"Thinking about the fact that only a couple of blokes had won it more than once is something that never really crossed my mind, but to be able to say you're in the same company as somebody like Caine Eckstein is a pretty special thing to be able to say."
Day cruised to victory in the race, crossing the winner's line more than minutes ahead of his nearest competitor, a feat even more impressive given Day received the all-clear to compete only days before the race.
"I'd had a stress fracture in my foot and I was a late entry for the race," he said.
"It wasn't really until about a week before that I felt good enough to race and the physio said I was good to go.
"It was something that put a bit of doubt in my mind before the race and during it, but I knew I'd put the work in to get here and I would've been disappointed if I didn't give it a go."
Now living and training in Mooloolaba, in Queensland, Day plans to reward himself for his win at the Gold with a week off training.
He will then get back into the grind of preparing for the upcoming Nutri-grain Ironman series, where he hopes to become a more consistent performer.
"Theseries starts in about six weeks and preparing for that is a full-time job. By the time you add it all up I'd easily do 35 hours a week of training.
"I do a swim session every morning, then I'm in the gym most days as well.
"Most afternoons we'll do a board session and on the weekend I'll probably do a proper ironman session as well.
"Last year I came in third overall in the series and had a runner-up in one of the events, so this year I'm just aiming to become a bit more consistent.
"It's such a close competition and any mistake can cost you, so I just want to iron those out."