Tibbits in field for ironman
MOOLOOLABA'S Alex Tibbits has been granted entry into the summer's Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series, following the withdrawal of defending champion Caine Eckstein.
Tibbits, 22, faced the prospect of having to qualify for the series via this month's cut-throat trials at Tugun after finishing outside the top-10 last campaign.
But he can breathe easy after getting the late call-up.
"It's a huge relief first and foremost," his coach Michael King said.
"He's spent the last 15 or 16 weeks preparing to trial and all of a sudden he's been given an opportunity to race, so it's a huge relief."
Tibbits was next cab off the rank after recently retired ironman Rhys Drury rejected an invitation from series promoter Guy Leech to take Eckstein's place.
Drury, 35, who called it quits after failing to claim a top-10 finish last season, considered re-joining the ranks of the elite but decided he could not commit.
And Tibbits is set to benefit.
"It's something he's not going to take for granted.
"He's worked hard and will continue to work hard to make sure he doesn't have to trial again next year," King said.
Tibbits has improved steadily over the past three seasons, finishing 20th, 18th and 15th.
Now he's ready for his best season yet.
Last week, Eckstein stunned the sport by announcing his intention to focus on triathlons, including the Hawaii Ironman.