Redhead's Daniel Collins has defied a short preparation to top the pointscore and qualify for the new-look Nutri-Grain ironman series at trials at Coolum on the weekend.
Collins, the 2018 NSW ironman champion, was first, second and third across three heats on Saturday taking in M-shape, traditional and sprint race formats. The top 20 women and men qualified for finals on Sunday, where the leading six men and six women earned places in the five-stop series.
Collins finished first, third and fifth across the same formats on Sunday to top the points. It was an impressive return for Collins, who has trained and raced sparingly since his sister, Jessica, was left a quadriplegic from a surfing accident in May 2018. He trained fully for just six weeks before the trials.
"It was a pretty minimal prep for me," Collins said. "Six weeks isn't a whole lot to do these races, so I definitely surprised myself with where I was at fitness-level wise."
Collins made the standalone series final in 2017 and finished seventh.
Clubmates Hayden Copping, Isak Costello and Justin McMorland were in the qualifiers on Saturday but missed a top 20 spot to progress to Sunday's finals.
Costello and McMorland are back in competition after a year-long club suspension.
Redhead's Nicola Owen was in the ironwoman trials but did not progress to Sunday.
The ironman and ironwoman series return as a standalone concept featuring 20 athletes in each.
The Coolangatta Gold next month will double as the opening event before stops at Burleigh Heads, Bulli, Surfers Paradise and North Cronulla.