Oliver (Olly) ShawOliver (Olly) Shaw
(Photo: Mark Leishman; click to enlarge)

One of the most promising off-road athletes in NZ has enjoyed a career breakthrough, making the podium at one of the worlds premier XTERRA triathlons.

Oliver (Olly) Shaw has put together the race of his young career to grab 4th place at the latest stop on the XTERRA global tour in Abruzzo, Italy. A career-best performance that showcased the bright future the talented athlete has in front of him.

Shaw, the reigning XTERRA age-group (amateur) World Champion has this year taken the difficult step up to join the Professional ranks at just 21 years of age. Abruzzo was an event he was really looking forward to after a gut-wrenching 4th place amongst the Elite U23 field at the ITU Cross-Triathlon World Championships just one week earlier in the Netherlands.

"I was absolutely gutted with just missing the podium. Gave it my best on the day on a course that didn't suit me, so I had no regrets," said Shaw, adding "I've heard Italy has a lot of climbing and some technical elements, so I can't wait to get there and show what I am capable of."

And deliver he did. Exiting the swim in touch with the main pack, the Rotorua-based Shaw put in a strong display of mountain bike strength and skill to maintain contact with the front of the race throughout the gruelling ride, heading out onto the run in 5th place.

"4th Pro at Xterra Italy!!!! Can't believe it." Shaw posted to his Facebook page. "Was just hoping to get into the top 10 and instead found myself in 5th off the bike. Ran scared for the hardest 10k I have ever done and then to my disbelief ran into 4th with just over a k to go. Best 4th place of my life!!!"

The event was won by South African Conrad Stoltz, a 7-time World Champion and legend of the sport. "I could hardly believe that I was crossing the line in 4th, bettered only by XTERRA icons Conrad Stoltz, Nico Lebrun and Nico Pfitzenmaier. Before the race I would have been happy with sneaking into the top ten. It proved to me that I have the potential to be up the front in with the big guns and it has given me a lot of confidence in my own ability for the future."

Shaw will now enjoy a short rest before resuming preparation for the final 3 events of the XTERRA European tour in the Czech Republic, Germany and England.