Sorrento’s humble beach sprint champion Jackson Symonds has charged into Surf Life Saving’s history books, becoming the first runner in over 50 years to win a fourth Australian title.
There was no stopping Perth’s flying plumber, who took time of work to attend the official launch last week, when he locked in his third straight title at Trigg Island yesterday afternoon.
With the Aussies surf events all at Scarborough, the best of the beachies, went toe-for-toe at Trigg, chasing rare Aussies gold.
Symonds showed why he is clearly Australia’s leading male sprinter, racing to a comfortable win over two-time champion Jordan Caldow (Currumbin) and Conor Loughnan (Kurrawa), with Tjimarri Sanderson Milera (Currumbin) fourth and former champion Jake Lynch (Newport) sixth.
“I’m over the moon, just to get one was amazing and for me I wasn’t great coming through the juniors and I didn’t really hit my straps until seniors when things just clicked into gear so this is pretty special,” said Symonds.
“It’s been a long season long season, training through winter and managing injuries but it is all worthwhile when you can come here in front of your family and friends and the surf club crew and win the Aussies.
“I really do it because I love it and I have to thank everyone at Sorrento. I could not have done it without them.”
The last man to win four Aussie open sprint crowns was former Manly rugby league Kangaroo winger Nick Yakich in 1965.
Yakich won his first title for Warriewood in 1962 and then for North Narrabeen in the next three years, but his sprinting and rugby league careers were cut short in 1966 when he suffered a bad knee injury.
The other two four-time winners were Manly’s Rex Phillips from 1932 to 1935 and another North Narrabeen legend, John Bliss, whose first two titles came in 1946 and 1947, and the next two were in 1952 and 1953.
Bliss, also a Sea Eagles and Australia rugby league winger, probably would have won more golds had the Aussies not been cancelled from 1941-45 because of World War Two.
Symonds is the first to win three consecutive open beach sprint finals since Callum Taylor, who won his first two titles for Collaroy in 1996 and 1997 but ran in the New Zealand cap when he crossed the line first in 1998 so is not the official winner.
Meanwhile, in the open women’s final it was an emotional Currumbin Viking and 2018 Stawell Gift winner Elizabeth Forsyth who won the gold medal, galloping away from Kurrawa pair Nicole Kay and Bree Masters, with her clubmate and defending champion Olivia Eaton fourth.
“I am super super excited and I was not expecting that at all,” said Forsyth.
“It’s been an amazing season for me, the highs just keep on coming after winning the Stawell Gift.
“Coming off Stawell I felt a little flat for a week but I started to build up two to three weeks later but I’m so happy that it’s all come together.”
And a word for Vikings Athletics coach Brett Robinson.
“Brett is a phenomenal coach and can’t thank him enough for what he has done for me and the rest of the Vikings squad.
“They are amazing to train with and we have such an epic squad back on the Gold Coast, I could not be happier to be with them.”
Meanwhile in the under-19 men’s Charlie Rigby made it an Open-Under 19s double for Sorrento with Michael Hanna (Elouera), fifth in the open men’s, winning the silver and Jamee Smith (Wanda) the bronze, while Coogee’s Sophie McGovern won the gold in the Under 19 women’s from Taylor Stickler (Kurrawa) with the bronze going to Cronulla’s Ngaire Hadfield.
In the under-17s boys, Mollymook’s Sam Zustovic won gold from Callum Scrivens (Grange) and Jack Musika (Coogee Beach, WA), while in the girls’ final Cronulla’s Chloe Mannix-Power won gold from Stephanie Welsh (Kurrawa) and Sydney Rafferty (Sorrento).
The leading Australian clubs Kurrawa and Currumbin continued their rivalry in the relays.
Kurrawa (Bree Masters, Taylor Stickler Casie Fyall and Nicole Kay) stormed home to win the women’s over Currumbin, giving Masters the gold medal double while the Vikings edged out Kurrawa in a thrilling photo finish, leading all the way for the men’s title which saw Currumbin victors for the third year running with Jordan Caldow, Ryan Bedford, Tjimarri Sanderson Milera and Kieran Gordon taking the honours.
Sorrento and Kurrawa showed their colours in the age group relays with Sorrento winning gold in the Under 17 Female from Alexandra Headland and Kurrawa and Under 19 male relay from Wanda and Kurrawa who added gold in the Under 19 female event from Currumbin and Sorrento
The Under 17 male relay went to Grange from Sorrento and Coogee Beach WA.