Oliver Simon says he has 'ridden a roller coaster of emotions' in the past 12 months but insists he is still enjoying new challenges heading into 2019.

The renowned triathlete from Tenby, now with 20 years of experience at racing over a variety of distances, began 2018 with the Llanelli Sprint Triathlon which opened up the newly formed Welsh Super Series.

Televised by S4C and Channel 4, he started the series with fourth place in a strong field of Commonwealth athletes and two weeks later took part in Lanzarote Ironman - but was plagued by a calf injury which forced him to withdraw after a very strong showing in the sea and on the bike.

"Set backs are part and parcel of this sport - I've learnt that since moving up to Ironman distance in 2011," said the 39-year-old, who will soon be eligible for veteran races.

But he was rewarded for his hard work in rehab with second in the Mike's Bikes Pembrokeshire Coast triathlon and third place in the Bala Olympic Triathlon 

The Welsh Ironman record holder always makes a big effort for the fiercely contested Long Course Weekend, and he started with a strong swim but ore agony was to follow as he suffered a crash on the bike leg which ruined his chances of overall glory.

"If you’re going to fall off better to do it when you have a camera bike with you I suppose, I will be back for the 10th year in 2019 though and am hopeful that I can put a solid race together."

Ironman Wales was next but calf problems resurfaced just before the event - and it proved a massive set back.

Despite again proving one of the fastest swimmers around with the quickest swim of the day, and the holding onto the lead in his age group on the bike age he inevitably faded during the marathon and was forced to withdraw just over halfway through.

"It was an amazing day with the county putting on a great show and I was gutted I couldn’t finish the performance off," he said.

Again he had to dust himself down and fight to get back fit though, and managed to finish with a creditable third place in the Super Series and then after what happened in Tenby, the former Greenhill pupil set his sights on qualifying for the World Ironman Championships via a new race experience in China.

Xiamen 70.3 had Kona slots available and after a six week build up he didn’t disappoint - winning his age group and guaranteeing himself qualification to Kona in 2019.

"One thing experience gives you is that you know what to expect when a race is run with slick organisation, build up and course all straight forward," he said.

It meant a superb ending to a year that fluctuated in fortune, with Simon giving special thanks to Mike's Bikes, Big Brums, Eddie Rocks, and Leelavadee Thai Massage for all their support.