World title is the crowning moment for Swansea thriathlete Non Stanford
SWANSEA'S Non Stanford is the world under-23 triathlon champion.
Stanford crowned an impressive season in perfect fashion in Auckland, winning the title by nine seconds from Holland's Sarissa De Vries.
Stanford said: "It was the dream scenario, but never has one of my race plans gone to plan.
"For it to actually go right for once is absolutely unbelievable. It happened on the right day."
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Fellow Briton Lucy Hall, who was a surprise selection for the Olympic team in London, finished eighth.
In tough conditions on a challenging course, Stanford put together her most impressive performance to date.
After going toe-to-toe for almost the entire 10km run, Stanford pulled away from De Vries with a few hundred metres to go to win in a time of two hours 13 minutes and six seconds.
"What a great city," Stanford said. "I always judge a city by how well I do so Auckland is definitely up there now as one of my favourite cities in the world."
Canada's Joanna Brown won bronze, although she was almost a minute behind De Vries.
With strong swimmers such as Hall, Caroline Routier, Claudia Rivas and Celine Schaerer in the field, the swim pace was fast and they formed a small breakaway out of T1 along with Sara Vilic.
But Australia's Ashlee Bailie quickly turned it on at the start of the bike and helped bring Simone Ackermann, Natalie Van Coevorden, Ellen Pennock, Stanford, De Vries and Brown with her to the leaders.
That group of 12 then stayed together at the front, as the chase started to slip away behind them.
Stanford and De Vries positioned themselves well from T2 and shot off the front immediately, where they stayed for the final kilometre.
In a battle of nerves, Stanford took the lead but had a persistent De Vries on her shoulder almost the entire time.
"It was a quality field out there, it was a really tough field with some strong runners," she said.
"I really struggled on the first few laps of the bike but I managed to get myself back into that front group and we kept just putting time into the pack. I couldn't believe it because that's where some of the really strong women were.
"Then I got on the run and just thought keep it steady and look out for those girls coming from behind. But they never came so I just kept my head down and kept pushing on.
I eventually broke, but it was really tough, she held on really well."
De Vries was thrilled with her result, after going into the race aiming for a top-ten finish.
"It was a bit unexpected, I just wanted to finish the season with a good result, and I thought top ten I would be really happy," she said.
"So I just went out there and gave it my all.
"On the run, I thought there were some really good runners in our group.
"But then it was just Non and I together and Non was just so strong, so I just took it lap by lap and in the end she just put on another gear and I couldn't go with her anymore."
It was Great Britain's sixth under-23 world championship win.
Other British athletes to have won ITU Under-23 World Championships include Hollie Avil, Alistair Brownlee, Jonathan Brownlee and Matthew Sharp.
It was the second ITU world title for Stanford this year, who was also part of Great Britain's gold medal-winning Mixed Relay team in Stockholm.