22 Jan 2011

Career-saving surgery for top triathlete

5:10 am on 22 January 2011

Triathlete Samantha Warriner is returning to multisport after career-saving heart surgery, the Beijing Olympian having confirmed her entry for Ironman New Zealand at Taupo in March, just 14 weeks after her operation.

The 39-year-old former world number one was diagnosed with super ventricular tachycardia or a racing heartbeat.

She'd been competing in the United States after winning the Port of Tauranga Half in record time last year and found herself fading badly on the run in several races after gaining healthy leads.

Late last year she couldn't manage a training run without stopping and turned to exercise physiologist and coach Jon Ackland, who suggested tests because he felt it was a health issue.

Warriner says she got a massive shock when she was told she had a dangerous heart condition although she'd been told as a child that her heart was too big and would go into spasm occasionally.

She says the odd time it happened she just stopped exercising and thought nothing more of it.

She's not expecting to challenge the likes of seven-time champion Jo Lawn and or the current world champion Mirinda Carfrae of Australia but says Taupo's the ideal place for her first full Ironman.

After that she's hoping to return to the half Ironman circuit in the United States.