Australian Life Saving Team wins back world crown in Adelaide
After eight long years and three World Championships lost to New Zealand, Life Saving’s world crown returned to Australian shores today at a windswept Glenelg beach in South Australia.
Led by Coolangatta Gold champion Georgia Miller, and an injured captain in Harriet Brown, the Australian Lifesaving Team survived a late charge from the never-say-die Black Fins to wrest back the title – the first since 2010.
The Aussies ran out 20 point winners 896 to 876 to be crowned overall world champions after the Kiwis took a nine point advantage after the SERC/pool events into the two days of Ocean and Beach racing.
Both teams amassed the same amount of points in the pool 387 each and it was the Aussies who dug deepest over the final two days to win the Ocean/Beach pointscore 502 points to 473.
And while there was celebrations for the Australian Open Team there was heartache for the Youth Team, going down to New Zealand by 14 points in the overall pointscore won in controversial circumstances after a disputed disqualification went against the Australians on the opening night in the pool.
Such is the competition between the Trans Tasman rivals, the Open Kiwis put together a string of wins in the men’s board race to Cory Taylor and the men’s and women’s Lifesaver Relays before Australia’s big guns wrapped up the pointscore with victories in both the Oceanman and Oceanwoman and the Mixed Lifesaver Relay.
Manly-born-Northcliffe-based Ironwoman Miller, was the star of the Australian team – winning seven gold medals after also playing a key role in the pool rescue events.
Miller wrapped up her “Most Valuable Player” award when she swam away with the Oceanwoman title – after three M-Shaped Elimination races and over an hour of racing.
She hung on to beat Northcliffe training partner Danielle McKenzie, the winner of the board race on Saturday, and Brown, who hobbled around the course after suffering ligament damage in the first event yesterday.
Miller had earlier beaten McKenzie and Brown in the ski race final and helped put the icing on the Australian pointscore cake with her ski paddle in the final event of the day, the Mixed Lifesaver Relay.
Currumbin’s pool rescue star and current Australian Open Surf race champion, Prue Davies set up the victory with her opening swim leg, before Matt Bevilacqua (board), Miller (ski) and Jackson Symonds (run), kept the ever-present Kiwis at bay.
Miller’s other victories came in the open surf race, beach relay, Rescue-tube-Rescue and the board rescue with Brown.
The Oceanman title wet to Manly’s Australian champion Kendrick Louis who dominated on the ski and the swim to hold off New Zealand’s Cory Taylor, with fellow Aussie Matt Bevilacqua third.
But it was a day Miller will never forget.
“It’s so exciting and a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in this team and I’m just so thankful to be here and the guys were absolutely incredible; I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved , the coaching staff, the management, its been absolutely flawless and to come away with the win, its amazing, I’m so excited,” said Miller.
“We went in knowing Hariett was injured and we knew we all had to lift and she did too, she managed to get third in that (Oceanwoman), she just gritted her teeth and got it done.
“I’m lucky the girls around me had so much support for me and got me there; I was a little out of my comfort zone in some of my events but I’m really happy with the individuals as well; it’s the second world Ironwoman title so I can’t complain.
“It did get a bit stressful (with the Kiwis breathing down our necks) but we managed to bring it out in the end in the Ocean Relay.
“It’s been a very long, cold two days and I know we can’t wait to get warm and celebrate (the win)”.
Brown said she was “so proud of each and everyone of her team mates”.
“They just pulled through in each event, it was getting close there for a little while and our performances towards the end and in the middle and everywhere were great, it just feels so good,” said Brown.
“When we had to lift we lifted , it’s been a rollercoaster ride over the last five days to come through on top at the end it’s satisfying.
“And full marks to Georgia, who did pool events, she was in the beach relay and in the ocean and definitely Prue Davies who came through and had to cover a few events for me as well and the hardest thing for me was watching my team mates get loaded up because I couldn’t get around as much.
“I’m so stoked, a little bit painful but I got through it”.
Team head coach Kurt Wilson, who suffered the traditional “coach dunking in the Glenelg surf” said he was “Absolutely stoked”.
“We had a massive afternoon today, there were some ups and downs today, and full marks to our captain Hariett Brown who was running on a pretty sore foot,” said Wilson.
“She’s got an injury to deal with now and we had to manage that the best we could and probably the most exciting part was the way all the girls rallied around (to cover) those events”.
MEANWHILE Australia’s latest surf-swim star Lani Pallister has led the Australian Youth Lifesaving Team to a brave second place behind New Zealand, in the overall National Teams Pointscore in Glenelg.
Pallister, 17, set her second Youth World Record today in the 200m Super Lifesaver Event, clocking a time of 2:24.19.
Her team mate, Keeley Booth, made it an Australian quinella before Pallister won the 50m Manikin Carry and the 100m Manikin Tow with Fins ahead of team mate Anthea Warne.
Pallister then joined Booth, Warne and Naomi Scott to win the 4×50 medley relay.
In what was a busy time for the Junior Pan Pac swim star, Pallister had already claimed the Youth surf race, Rescue Tube Rescue, the Mixed Life Saver Relay, the 200m Obstacles and the 100m rescue medley (also a Youth WR).
She will now look to swim for Alexandra Headland in the inter-club competition which starts in Adelaide this week.