Joe Maloy’s march toward qualifying for the United States Olympic Team took a major step forward over the weekend.

Maloy, a Wildwood Catholic High School graduate, won the Noosa Triathlon in Queensland, Australia on Sunday to beat a field that included nearly 4,000 – yes 4,000 – participants.

According to its website, Noosa is the third largest Olympic distance triathlon in the world.

Maloy finished the race in 1 hour, 47 minutes, 4 seconds to beat the second-place finisher by 49 seconds. The race included the traditional Olympic triathlon distances of a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run.

Maloy is the first American to win the Noosa Triathlon in the 33-year history of the event. The rest of the top 10 finishers were all from Australia.

“Honestly, it is huge. One of my goals in triathlon is to reestablish the American work ethic as a hallmark of success, and I think this win was a step in that direction,” Maloy told slowtwitch.com. “I want athletes of all levels to realize that hard work toward your goal pays off.”

Maloy was in first place following the Pacific Ocean swim but made up some time with a quick transition into the bike. He then posted the fastest bike time by about 45 seconds to take the lead for good. He led by about a minute going into the run and wound up cruising to victory.

Maloy’s path to victory was interesting in that the bike was his weakest of the three race disciplines when he first turned pro a few years ago.

“I took one pedal, it felt good. I took another one and it felt better and I just went with it and took my chance,” Maloy told the Brisbane Courier Mail. “I think it also worked to my advantage being a little bit unfamiliar to most of these guys. Maybe there was a sense of, ‘Let him go, he’ll come back.’”

Maloy told the Courier Mail the victory is one of the highlights of his career.

“Right at the top,” he said.

Maloy has raced in 18 countries on six continents during his professional triathlon career. He is considered a strong challenger to earn a place on the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Maloy, who currently resides and trains in San Diego, is a 2004 graduate of Wildwood Catholic, where he starred in cross country and swimming. He swam for four years at Boston College before later becoming a graduate assistant coach while earning a masters degree. Maloy also spent seven summers on the Wildwood Crest Beach Patrol.

Maloy has enjoyed a strong 2105 race season. He placed seventh overall and as the top American in a sprint distance race in Cozumel, Mexico, in early October. He also placed 22nd overall and third among American men at the ITU Stockholm Triathlon and was 16th overall and the second American at the Rio de Janeiro ITU World Olympic Qualification Event held as part of the Rio Test Event for the 2016 Olympics earlier this year. Maloy also raced in major events in Edmonton and Chicago in September but did not place well due to injuries and illness.

Maloy’s next race is yet to be determined.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RESULTS FROM THE NOOSA TRIATHLON