Aussies Wrap – Day 9 – Saturday 24 April
DAY AND MILLER STAR AT AUSTRALIAN SURF LIFE SAVING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Ali Day has added his name in history books, today winning his first ever Australian Surf Life Saving Ironman crown.
After nine days of competition the blue-ribbon Ironman and Ironwoman finals cap off the 2021 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships that has seen 6,000 competitors take part.
With more than 670 days on the sideline due to injury and COVID-19, Day’s comeback this season has been flawless winning all rounds of the Nutri-Grain Ironman Series and today leaving the field in his wake to take out the 2021 Australian Ironman title.
“It’s been a really, really long time since I raced for an Australian Ironman title and never in my wildest dreams would I have thought of this season,” Day said.
“I’ve wanted it for a really long time, but to be honest I was really nervous this morning and nervous before the race.
“I just had to keep reminding myself just trust yourself Al, you’ve got this.
“The year before I got injured, I won every race except for Aussies and I think this pretty much tops that,” he said.
Day attributed his win to his family, coach and mentor, the legendary six time Australian Ironman Champion Trevor Hendy, who is President of Day’s Surfers Paradise Club.
“They mean the world to me and I think that’s probably why I won,” Day said.
“I’ve got the love heart on my board and ski with Kel (wife) and Danny’s (son) names on it, and they’re there for a reason.
“When I’m doing it tough, I just try to think about the sacrifices they’ve made for me – so it means the world to have them here
Small conditions once again greeted the field, with Day coming out of the swim in second place, before pushing through to first in the board leg.
It was in the ski that he cemented his lead, finishing a good 10 seconds in front of Newport’s Jackson Borg and Northcliffe’s Matt Bevilacqua.
“I knew once I found a little bit of open water I would be okay. I knew that if I could just keep focused on myself that I’d be okay.
“I opened up a little bit of a gap in that board leg. I looked over my shoulder and I could see a little bit of breathing space but in Australian Ironman races, in conditions like this, you can’t let up,” he said.
In the IRONWOMAN event, Northcliffe’s Georgia Miller successfully defended her Australian Ironwoman title, to cap off perfect Aussies.
It’s been a golden haul for Miller, who has won an impressive nine gold medals across both individual and team events. She delivered an impressive Ironwoman final, finishing ahead of Nutri-Grain Series champion Lana Rogers (Alexandra Headland) and Newport’s Lizzie Wellborn.
“I’m over the moon – I can hardly speak, I’m absolutely speechless and that was absolutely incredible,” Miller said.
“To win it once was amazing, but then to win it again, back-to-back, is just insane.
“I think it’s just a special Aussies with us all being here – with everything that’s been happening over the past year, it’s incredible to see this many people together, on the beach, doing what they love,” she said.
NORTH BONDI CLAIM HISTORY MAKING GOLD IN TAPLIN RELAY
North Bondi claimed a historic gold medal in the Male Taplin Relay, the first ever for the club.
The team of Charlie Verco, Jackson Collins, Noah Havard, Samuel Braun, Jarrod Poort and Ned Wieland combined to deliver a sensational win in the final event of the day,capping off the 2021 Australian Surf Life Saving Championships in style .
Four of the six athletes have been at the club since they were nippers, making the win even more special for Head Coach Jim Walker.
“It’s a long time in the making, but it’s just something we’ve wanted for so long. In 1990 we made our first taplin final, and since then we’ve got one medal, a bronze,” Walker said.
“Now we are the Open Men’s Taplin Relay champions of Australia for 2021 and that means more than anything in the world.
“Everyone was inspiring, everyone had to run hard, that was the rule. Everyone had to sprint and inspire the next person.
“They all did it, nobody did better than anybody else – they all did unbelievably. It means the world – this will party on forever,” he said.
The Northcliffe trio of Georgia Miller, Hannah Sculley and Danielle McKenzie won the Open Female Taplin Relay, capping off Miller’s golden Aussies..
OLYMPIC HOPEFULS HEADLINE FINALS DAY AT AUSSIES
Tokyo Olympic hopeful Nicholas Sloman (Noosa) snagged one of the first gold medals on offer on the day at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
The conditions suited Sloman perfectly, who is hoping to represent Australia at the Tokyo Olympic Games in the 10km open water swim.
Sloman found some clean water, managing to beat Northcliffe’s Bailey Armstrong and fellow Sunshine Coaster Hayden Cotter (Maroochydore) in a sprint up the beach.
“It gets harder and harder each year with the likes of Bailey (Armstrong) and Hayden (Cotter), and now even Sam Short from the under 19s coming out,” Sloman said.
“The fact that it was still water as well, and no assistance, made it even harder.
With the surf life saving season wrapping up, Sloman’s focus is now on qualifying for Tokyo.
“I’ve still got a couple of still water swims before I head off to Portugal for the Olympic qualifier and that’s the 10 kilometre open water swim,” Sloman said.
“That’s the main focus – training through Aussies and making sure I’m in the right shape,” he said.
Kayaker Jemma Smith (Newport) has her sights set on an Olympic debut in Paris, but today it was all about the surf.
Smith managed to cross the line in front of current World Ocean Racing champion from BMD Northcliffe Danielle McKenzie.
“That was one of the races that I really wanted to go out there and put a really good race together,” Smith said.
“It was all just about putting a good race together, making sure I got off the beach nice and clean. I’m absolutely over the moon that I managed to cross the line in front.
“It’s been phenomenal to see the depth of women’s ski paddling here this week, it’s been super tough to make it through all the rounds.
“I paddle alongside a lot of these girls week in and week out in kayaking and in surf, so it’s just awesome to see,” she said.