Matt’s fighting finish gives Australia a golden start to World title tilt
Currumbin’s Matt Davis has given Australia a golden start to the World Life Saving Championships in Adelaide with a hard fought victory on the second day of pool competition at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre.
On an encouraging night, Australia collected one gold and four silver medals to a girls team that has certainly made their presence felt to be 18 points behind defending World Champions New Zealand in the battle for the coveted National Teams crown.
Davis, the 22-year-old Bundaberg-born teachers aid, had to dig deeper than ever before and he produced an emotional victory in the 100 metres Rescue Medley, the only swimmer under the minute.
He went into the final as the world record holder and came out a world champion, clocking 59.70 to beat former world record holder, Germany’s Danny Wieck (1:00.08) and New Zealand’s Chris Dawson (1:00.76).
“That’s the best moment of my life, I’ve trained hard and owe a lot to my coaches Kurt Wilson and (swim coach) Graeme McDonald and the boys in that race, for pushing me,” said Davis.
Davis let out a emotional yelp and splashed the water before being greeted by his Australian team mates and family, when he emerged onto pool deck.
There was also an emotional embrace with Wilson and his father John, acknowledging the hard work that has gone into the gold medal win.
The Australian girls opened up proceedings with Davis’s Currumbin team mate Chelsea Gillett finishing second in the opening women’s event, the 200m Obstacles.
Soon after Gillett combined with Mariah Jones (Greenmount) Georgia Miller (Northcliffe) and Prue Davis (Currumbin) to win silver in the 4x50m Obstacles Relay before Jones teamed up with Australian captain Harriet Brown (Northcliffe) to win the Line Throw.
Davies, the Vikings women’s surf race champion in Perth this year, then won her second silver medal of the night, in the 100m Manikin Tow with Fins.
Australian coach Wilson said he was proud of his team who are well poised to strike against reigning world champions, New Zealand going into the second day of pool competition on Friday before two days of Ocean competition on the weekend.
“We are looking strong, we have had some quality events with both the men and the women. It was always about accumulation, making A finals, making B finals and picking up those podium finishes,” said Wilson.
“Especially Matt, going in as the world record holder and coming out as a world title holder is massive and the whole team rallied behind that. Going into day two, 18 points down on New Zealand is a lot better than two years ago where we were 40 or 50 points behind so we have stepped up – day one was always about driving in some events ad surviving others – we’re well placed”.
Meanwhile the Australian Youth team also had a golden start, picking up two gold medals and a bronze with Elouera’s Michael Hannah grabbing the beach sprint-flags double and North Cronulla’s Leah Rampoldi collecting gold in her specialist beach flags and bronze in the beach sprint.