Aussies Wrap – Day 2 Open Championships – 21 April
IRONMAN & IRONWOMAN FINALS LINE UP DECIDED AT SURF LIFE SAVING AUSSIES
Final field for the Ironman and Ironwoman have now been decided for the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, as the surf stars battled it out to secure their places.
Defending Ironwoman Champion Georgia MIller (BMD Northcliffe) cruised through to the final, alongisde former Australian Ironwoman Champions Lana Rogers (Alexandra Headland), Courtney Hancock (Surfers Paradise) and leading NSW Ironwoman Lizzie Wellborn.
Hancock now wearing the iconic Surfers Paradise colours, has legend Trevor Hendy in her corner as the Club President and she’s hoping his daily words of wisdom will help her claim her third Australian Ironwoman crown. If she wins, she will be the first Surfers Paradise Ironwoman to win the crown since Karla Gilbert in 2003.
“I’ve been a part of Surfers Paradise for almost two years now, but I’m yet to race an Aussies for them. Every morning we always have a team chat, and Zane (Hammill) and Trevor Hendy always give us some words to think about for the day and I think that really helps to calm yourself.
“I remember driving up from Sawtell to the Gold Coast just to watch Trev race, and to be so excited to be in his presence. He had no idea who I was or anything, and now he’s one of my closest mates.
“I’m focusing on every race, but really want the Ironwoman… I’ve always wanted three (titles). Unfortunately with the last Aussies I just missed out with the runner up,” she said.
While the Ironwoman had some tricky banks to contend with, the Ironmen had unforgiving conditions providing little assistance going around the cans.
“That was really tough – we’ve lost a bit of the swell today so it was a bit of a hard slog. I think it will be much the same on Saturday so it’s going to be a really hard race. But it’s awesome to be here, the vibes are so high and it’s a great day,” said Bevilacqua.
“The depth in the field at the moment is red hot. We’ve got Hayden Cotter who’s a world standard swimmer, and the swim is first so he’s into it and he’s not even in the Series. It just shows the depth we’ve got and there will be 16 of the best guys in Australia on the line on Saturday.
“It’s a massive program, there’s not another sport like it where you do 10 races a day in the lead up to one of the biggest races of your career,” he said.
In the 2KM Beach Run earlier today, Wanda’s Ali Najem claimed his third Australian title.
“I won here with the U16s my first ever Opens Aussie gold and have been doing this for nine years now back and forth and have sort of won everything. Same atmosphere and the organisers have organised this beautifully.
“Being an Australian Muslim it is our holy month of Ramadam so we don’t eat from sunrise to sunset, so I have been fasting leading up to the race today. Except for today, today I broke my fast. It is awesome to represent my religion over here, there isn’t many young Australian Muslim kids that do this and I have been blessed to be a part of the system where there is no difference, everyone is equal.
“As well as Ramadam, I had a full reconstruction last year in August and was told I couldn’t run for 6-9 months and find myself back here winning a gold. It has been a long rehab but I did everything right, I have been training out at Gymea in an altitude chamber called base camp and that has helped me get me fit and ready for this,” he said.
Open Men’s Board Relay final produced a thrilling run up the beach, after the only wave of the event appeared in the final leg to give Newport the nudge over Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park and Surfers Paradise.
After a run up the beach, Newport’s Zach Morris said: “That was tough as, but we’ve been doing flat water sessions, like 500 metre maxes. I knew I had to work it hard off that last can to try and win it.
“I didn’t want to spend all my biscuits because I knew I probably would have died coming back in. So I sat behind Tex, and just conserved my energy. But I’m a sprinter on the board, and I just sprinted all the way back in from the last can.
“This is the first time the open (Newport) boys have won the board relay at Aussies, so it’s a pretty good feeling to come away with the win there,” he said.
In the Open Women’s Board Relay, Northcliffe combination of Georgia Miller, Danielle McKenzie and Hannah Scully, were successful able to defend their Aussies crown the trio once again teaming up to take gold ahead of Surfers Paradise and Newport.
Down under the lights of Mooloolaba Beach Track Jackson Symonds sprinted his way to his sixth Open Male Beach Sprint title and his fifth consecutive title since 2016.
“That’s probably the best Aussies run I’ve strung together,” Symonds said.
“Yeah it’s really awesome, it’s my first Aussies for Northcliffe and they’re all really getting around it, they all got the bus down even though they’ve got to race tomorrow, so that’s really special to see.”
In the Open Female Beach Sprints Sophie Watts from City of Perth took out the title saying that she was very proud to be able to represent her home state of WA.
“I can’t believe it, I’ve been racing for so long to finally get on the podium,” Watts said.
“I’m really proud to represent Western Australia over here, not many of us made the trip over this year.. but it’s totally worth it now.”
In the U19’s Cronulla’s Isabellah Walker took out the Female Beach Sprint title while Mollymook’s Sam Zustovich snagged the Male Beach Sprint Gold.
“I’m absolutely stoked, ecstatic, can’t even put into words … thank God,” Walker said.
“This is fun, this isn’t too much stress for me versus like track sprinting so it’s always good to finish off the season with Beach Sprinting.”
The Australian Surf Life Saving Championships continue on the Sunshine Coast Thursday to Saturday 22-24 April 2021 with the open finals to be shown live on Channel 9 GO! on Saturday 24 April 12-2pm AEST.