Local hero Sam Appleton nabbed a podium finish in Sunday’s Western Sydney half Ironman at Penrith, finishing second behind New Zealand’s Terenzo Bozzone.
The former Warrimoo resident was happy with his performance despite being unable to hold off the in-form Kiwi. He completed the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 20km run in three hours, 45 minutes and 38 seconds - just over two minutes behind Bozzone.
“You never say no to a podium finish and it has been a long season so I will take whatever I can get a this time of the year,” said Appleton.
“It was great to be racing here in Penrith, with my mum and dad here and a lot of local support and to perform well was an extra bonus. It took me a kilometre to find my legs on the run and settle in and then I felt alright.
“Then I thought Terenzo was on the ropes, he was breathing heavy. But 70.3 racing can change in a moment. I didn’t hit the wall but I lost my rhythm a bit and the legs started to tighten up. Terenzo smelled blood in the water and put in a little gap and for me it was all that was needed and the last three or four km became a bit more of a survival and a need to get to the finish line in one piece.”
For the New Zealander, the win at the International Regatta Centre course came five months after a tragic accident that threatened to end his racing career. He was hospitalised after being hit by a truck while riding in Auckland on July 3.
Appleton paid tribute to his competitor after the race.
“Unfortunately for me he was the stronger man on the day but it is great to see him back after all he had been through,” he said.
Women’s winner Radka Kahlefeldt was unchallenged in her first look at the Penrith course.