Newark triathlete Olivia Mathias hailed the support of her home crowd at the World Triathlon Championship Series in Sunderland.
Roker Beach welcomed the best triathletes from around the world as well as thousands of amateur participants over a weekend festival of swim, bike, run.
Commonwealth silver medallist Mathias, starting just her third WTCS event, was cheered across the line in 23rd place after stellar performances on the swim and bike legs.
“I really enjoyed myself,” she said. “The crowd were amazing. I had a bit of a tough day, but they made a massive difference and never gave up on me.
“They kept on cheering the whole time and I really appreciated it. The Brits came out again.”
The top contenders wasted no time in imposing themselves on the 750m North Sea swim and Mathias was among them, emerging from the water in third place.
In the leading group, she pushed the pace around a technical bike course more than anyone and was the first into the second transition and onto the closing 5km run.
Mathias was unable to maintain her momentum and slipped down the field, clocking a time of 18 minutes and 13 seconds on the run and completing the course in an overall one hour one minute and 55 seconds.
It was a performance full of fighting spirit as Mathias marked her return to racing after an injury suffered in a bike crash at May’s European Championships in Madrid.
“I’ve been swimming well but I haven’t done a triathlon for a very long time,” she said. “I was really nervous and I felt like I was in the deep end with a World Series at home.
“I managed to pull out the swim, but it was a shame we didn’t get a group together on the bike, we’d work but it was a bit stop-starty.
“I wanted to try to drive the bike and to stay in position when the group caught. I wanted to give myself the best possible chance.
“I didn’t know how I was going to run, I’ve had time off running and I expected to be better than that.”