He grew up idolising Australian triathlon royalty and last weekend Nathan Breen gave a clear indication that he may be ready to follow in their footsteps.
Cronulla triathlete Breen won the 16-19 years ITU World Age Group Sprint Championships in Cozumel, Mexico last weekend to take a major step in his young career.
Breen, 19, weathered the oppressively hot and humid conditions in Mexico to secure the victory.
Cronulla is the birthplace of the sport in Australia and a breeding ground for some of its greats including world champions Chris McCormack and Craig Alexander.
And Breen – who got his start doing swim sessions at Caringbah pool as a 13-year-old with ‘Macca’ and ‘Crowie’ – could be their heir apparent.
“I was told at the time they were world champions so I was pretty impressed with that,” Breen said.
“I used to swim train with them in the holidays. They were so down to earth, reasonable and happy to pass on advice.”
Breen was always a strong swimmer and runner but didn’t start to master the bike until he turned 15 which was when his triathlon career really started.
But it was the determination to overcome the disappointment of his performance in the 2.5km run, 1km swim and 2.5km run Aquathlon World Championship the day before that spurred Breen on.
“It thought it was really important to get a good hit out before my triathlon to ensure a good experience in the heat before I backed up today,” he said.
“But in the end I was very disappointed actually. I thought I would go a lot better but I guess I made up for it today.
“Yesterday I tended to focus on the end result but today it was about the little things, the process, and I think it paid off in the heat.
“Mentally I had a completely different mindset today. I was out there to enjoy it and to focus on those little things and I’d be happy with whatever the outcome was and as it was it was a good outcome.
“I had a strong swim. The swim is usually my strongest and I came out of the water with a 10 second lead and then on the ride there was a group of four of us who worked well together until about 15 kilometres.
“But then the chase pack of 10 riders caught us with five kilometres to go so there was now 15 off the bike [into T2].
“My coach Mick Delamotte told me there were things on the run I had to focus on. Shoulders relaxed, chin down and forward lean and I was thinking that the whole way through.
“I could hear the others breathing behind and I was thinking ‘keep control, keep control.”
Breen will apply for his pro license when he returns home before entering the under-23 national series.
The five kilometre run saw Breen cross the line in 58 minutes, 27 seconds – 20 seconds ahead of Mexicans Arturo Mateos (58:44), Victor Hugo Berrones (58:49) and Eduard Antoni Castellano (58:49).