Steeled for success
MOOLOOLABA ironman Matt Poole says the formula was simple for him - find that little bit extra or be prepared to play bridesmaid to Shannon Eckstein and Zane Holmes once again.
Last season, Poole went painfully close to snapping the Gold Coast pair's stranglehold on the Nutri-Grain Ironman series when he grabbed second place overall.
For the past decade, Holmes and Eckstein have dominated the event, winning every one of the past nine series between them.
Poole, 23, said he was not content to rest on his laurels and in the off-season he had recommitted himself to becoming faster, fitter and smarter - all in the hope of standing atop the podium come series end.
He said he was now a true full-time athlete thanks to a number of sponsors he had picked up in the off-season, and his daily routine consiste entirely of training, resting and recovering.
"I'd love to be in that number one position," Poole said.
"It's certainly not going to come easy. It's something I'm really going to have to fight for.
"I'm going to have to replicate the results which I worked so hard to achieve last season and I have to find a little bit more in me and find an extra 10% and ultimately find another two or three points to get to the top of the table."
Poole ended up two points behind Eckstein last season after finishing outside the top five in just one of the five rounds.
He was cruelled by a 10th placing at the Coolum round, where he was struck down by severe illness that resulted in him collapsing over the finish line.
He would have won the series had he converted that 10th into a seventh.
While the result might be one to rue, Poole said he had proved a great deal to himself just by taking the line that day.
"Tenth was the worst result of my series, but I can look back and take plenty of positives out of it," he said.
"Tenth was a bad position, however, if you asked me how I was going to go before that race, I probably would have said a lot worse.
"I fought for every metre out there and I did it pretty tough.
"But having said that, a lot of athletes turn up and they're not at their best and I'm not saying I'm the only one out there not doing it tough.
"On that particular day I was certainly battling some demons."