Kiwi triathlete Dylan McCullough savoured his victory for a short moment, raising the ribbon and looking up at the sky, before taking a moment to catch his breath.
The 17-year-old had just claimed gold at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, and he couldn’t quite believe it.
“It was a very special feeling crossing the line today,” McCullough said. “I didn't look back the whole run.”
Auckland based McCullough had broken away to a 13 second lead, after a tight-fought bike ride with Italy’s Alessio Crociani.
“I could just hear everyone screaming 50 seconds! [The pack] are closing in,” he said.
“I thought it was pretty touch and go heading into the run so yeah… to look back on the finishing straight and know I couldn’t see them - it was very cool.”
McCullough admits he felt the nerves coming into an event as big as the Youth Olympic Games, but his mentor Rick Wells was right alongside him the whole way.
“It’s a highlight of my life to watch that, just great to see, real heart in your mouth kind of stuff,” Wells said.
“It was emotional, I didn't think I’d get emotional but I did… there was a tear in my eye.”
And there was also a sense of relief and excitement for his family.
“I think there was a bit of expectation on him coming into this,” his brother Matt said. “We’re just so stoked for him.”
But there’s little time to celebrate, McCullough will also line up alongside Brea Roderick for the Oceania team in the mixed relay, later in the Games.
McCullough’s gold adds to New Zealand’s strong history in triathlon at the Youth Olympic Games.
Aaron Barclay won at Singapore 2010, and Daniel Hoy placing second four years later at Nanjing 2014.
New Zealand athletes also combined with the Australian pair in the Mixed Relay Team Event to win silver in 2010 and bronze in 2014.Buenos Aires 2018 Olympic Summer Youth Games Dylan McCullough Triathlon