Teen triathlon sensation Dylan McCullough staying patient in bid for Olympic glory

One of New Zealand's most promising triathletes is prepared to forgo the dream of competing at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, if it means he'll one day have the best chance of winning gold.

Auckland’s Dylan McCullough has been touted as the man to revive the sport in New Zealand, after he claimed gold at the Youth Olympic Games at Buenos Aires last year.

That was also the first time he experienced the true taste of glory, returning to the Olympic village to soak up a moving haka from the New Zealand team.

"I've had nothing like that before," McCullough told Newshub. "That's a career highlight for me over there."

That moment reminded him that all of his hard work was paying off, but the euphoria of Buenos Aires didn't last long.

Almost straight after claiming silver in the team event, McCullough was struck down with a crippling illness, that forced him out of his first ever elite race - the ITU World Cup in Ecuador.

"It was a hard decision to make, but I made the right decision," McCullough admitted. "I could hardly move over there, I was so tired."

He was back training 26 hours a week within a few weeks of returning home, motivated to stay in top shape, and now he’s eyeing the elite World Cup races on the 2019 calendar.    

"I know that I've hopefully got a long career ahead of me, so I just need to be patient."

McCullough races sprint distance and at just 17 years of age, his coach is in no hurry to see him double his training load to race the Olympic distance.

"People are holding me back at the moment. Obviously, I'm pretty keen and I want to do it all now."

But it's all part of his team’s long-term strategy and that means he won’t be joining his mates at the beach this summer.

"I'm not a typical teenager who does the fun stuff, because I need to stay grounded. If I want this to be my career, then I need to stay fully focused."