An out pouring of 10 years of pent up emotion overflowed onto North Cronulla Beach today when a Nutri-Grain Ironman dream finally came true for Sydney-born Gold-Coaster Matt Poole.
The countdown to the Ironman Series finale had all the build up of a heavyweight prizefight between Northcliffe’s nine-time champion Shannon Eckstein and one of the men most likely in Kurrawa’s Poole.
Eckstein, hospitalized on Friday with a shredded toe and on painkillers and Poole came into the Eliminator Round locked together on 194 points.
When the eight finalists lined up for the grand finale, it could not have unfolded any closer.
What unfolded was a ding-dong battle royal to end all ding-dong battles.
The pair came out of the opening ski leg almost side-by-side with Currumbin’s Hayden White and Luke Cuff from Mermaid Beach.
Onto the swim and the long legs of Poole stole a march on Eckstein as they waded across a difficult sand bank only to share the same wave to the beach before the final board leg.
Poole, arguably the best board paddler in the field, went for broke and opened up a narrow lead on the paddle to the beach, only to look over his shoulder to see Eckstein and 2015 Series winner Ali Day surging down a wave.
“Coming in on the board I thought I almost had my own wave and I turned around and saw that orange and green board coming down and I thought this guy is relentless, I just had to use my legs and I knew I had to get up and run and carry my board across that bank,” said Poole.
“Last year I finished 14th and13th in the first two races and my Series was over.
“This year I came in with a relaxed approach but you’ve got no idea how many running sessions I have done and envisioned running cross that finish line winning my own Series.
“It’s like winning the Super Bowl, Wimbledon and the Grand Final, it means the world to me.
“In the end a 45 minute race to decide the Series all came down to half-a-metre on that sand bank, getting up before Shannon, half-a-metre was going to win you or lose you the title and today was my.”
Poole crossed the line and let all his emotions unleash with Eckstein just metres away in second and Day third and in the overall Series it was Manly’s Kendrick Louis who grabbed third behind Poole and Eckstein.
2017 Nutri-Grain IronMan Finals Series overall placings: