Ironman champion Shannon Eckstein remains on course to defend his title and win an eighth Australian championship at Maroochydore this weekend.
Eckstein made it safely through his quarter-final on Friday, easing into first place and not taking any risks.
He says carrying the weight of expectation as a seven-time winner isn’t playing on his mind.
“I’ve probably been expected to win it every year for about 10-15 years,” Eckstein said.
“I’ve done it for a long time and don’t worry about what other people think. You’ve got to get through to the final first of all.
“Every year the blokes want to knock you off more and more. I’ll just trust what I’ve done in the past and go for it.”
Eckstein said he wasn’t concerned by the ski-board-swim race order but having the swim in the last leg in tough Maroochydore conditions would be a test.
He feels training in similar surrounds at Northcliffe will hold the club’s competitors in good stead.
“The surf’s great,” he said.
“It’s a bit tricky up here with lots of little rips, which is unusual. But we train in that stuff at Northcliffe so its probably going to suit us.”
In the other quarter-finals Currumbin’s Hayden White won through to Saturday’s semi-finals, while round three winner Matt Bevilacqua (Kurrawa) won heat two.
Meanwhile, the open ironwoman championship is wide open.
Northcliffe’s Harriett Brown is relying on a little help from her mum and dad, who are up from Victoria, as she tries to win a place in Sunday’s final.
“Last year I was pretty ill and didn’t end up making the final so this year I’m really hoping to get there,” she said.
“With Aussies over five days of competition you have to take it each step as it comes, rather than think too far ahead.”
Brown has already won gold in the open women’s surf teams with two-time ironwoman winner Courtney Hancock, Maddy Dunn and Rebecca Creedy, who will all line up in the ironwoman semi-finals.