Leading Scottish triathlete David McNamee will line up toe-to-toe with the world's best in London this weekend at the PruHealth World Triathlon Grand Final.
The 25-year-old is targeting a fourth top ten finish in the series when he tackles the 1500m swim, 40km bike ride and 10km run around the London 2012 Olympic course at Hyde Park.
In the 2012 showpiece world finale, McNamee finished tenth on the day and 16th overall in the series. This year, the former World U23 silver medallist is looking to better that finish and continue his rise up the ranks.
"Last year was my first full senior season and this season has been another step forward, so it's good to be moving in the right direction", said the Irvine native. "I go to London ranked 13th in the world so to come out the other end in the top ten is the goal. It will be awesome to race the exact course from the Olympics. It's flat, but very fast, which should suit me well."
Post London, McNamee plans to take a brief break then return to training in early November, competing in cross-country races over the winter and building up his race sharpness with the aim of hitting his peak at Strathclyde Park next July.
On Thursday 24 July, 2014, the men's and women's individual triathlon races take place then, two days later, the triathlon mixed relay will offer spectators a super-fast format of the popular sport.
He added: "My last four years have been focused on reaching the Commonwealth Games and for it now to be almost here is so exciting. I have never represented Scotland before which would be special and the fact it's in Scotland makes it ten times more important."
"I picked up my first ever senior triathlon medal at a European Cup event at Strathclyde Park so I've fond memories competing there. To have everyone cheering on your name gives you such a mental boost, even though in triathlon you're not really fully aware of it until the run."
"Also to have the relay format included is something different for everyone. I raced one last year and it's an exciting concept - it's quite strange for a triathlete to be in a team, but it's amazing how much you can push yourself when it's not just for you."
"To be part of Team Scotland is something I want to experience and get to be in an athlete's village. I'm looking forward to mingling with other athletes and experiencing different sports, seeing how they approach it and learning from them."
Since graduating with an Accountancy degree from the University of Stirling, McNamee has been based in Leeds, where he lives and trains in the company of such luminaries as Alistair Brownlee and his brother Jonathan, the Olympic and World Triathlon Series Champions respectively.
"I train with the Brownlees a bit and it's a good reminder to let you see what you need to do to reach the top,â€ said McNamee. "They've set the benchmark and that pushes us all on. Yorkshire is a great place to train, it has beautiful countryside and it's a very active county."
"I don't miss the Scottish weather, but you miss the stupid things like every so often I have a hankering for a potato scone and some tablet. My mum sends me down a box of tablet now and again which puts my healthy eating plan out the window for a few days."
And it's not just some tasty Scottish treats which is motivating McNamee. "Right now I just want to go to Glasgow and deliver a performance I'm proud of."
At Hyde Park, McNamee will be competing in the elite men's race, which starts on Sunday 15 September at 1.30pm.
Also in action this weekend, Stirling postgraduate student Natalie Milne will be making her World Championship debut in the senior women's race on Saturday 14 September and emerging talents Marc Austin and Grant Sheldon are scheduled to race in the elite Junior race on Thursday 12 September.
You can follow David on Twitter @DavidMcNameetri
Photo Credit: British Triathlon