Bonnie aims for ironwoman title
AS a junior competitor from Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club, where she started as a nipper, Bonnie Hancock won it all.
She claimed the Australian under-19 ironwoman title, along with dozens of board and surf races, but the rising Northcliffe star hasn’t quite reproduced that success in open competition.
All looks set to change when Bonnie, 20, takes on the world’s best in the 2010-11 Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironwoman series, which starts at Currumbin on the Gold Coast on November 21.
Now with four seasons under her belt and a stunning fourth place in last week’s Coolangatta Gold on her resume, Bonnie believes she is ready to be competitive against all-comers this summer.
In her sights are defending champ Alicia Marriott, number two seed Liz Pluimers, world champion Kristyl Smith and not forgetting the number four seed, her older sister, Courtney.
“I think I can make the step up this year,” Bonnie said.
“I was talking to my coach Pat O’Keefe last week and he said it’s always hard for someone who is successful in the under-19s to make the progression to open competition.
“This is a massive step and last year I felt it in my first full year in opens but this year I just feel like I have more experience and definitely more maturity.
“I’d love to have a breakthrough year, and not just improve, but show that I can be competitive against the top girls and contend in races.”
If her form in the Coolangatta Gold is anything to go by, such improvement is guaranteed.
Bonnie was in a group of three, with Marriott and her sister, that split the field and cleared out for the first two-thirds of the race, an impressive feat by anyone’s standards.
“The Gold gave me confidence, because I was with the top girls for a long way,” she said.
“I think the girls that did it will have an advantage in this first hour race because the Gold was so fast-paced throughout those first few parts.”
While she knows she will be one of the series improvers, Bonnie is well aware of the task ahead of her at Currumbin, having had the benefit of training with many of the top ironwomen all winter at Northcliffe.
“You can’t count out Kristyl (Smith). She is so good at everything, just a freak in the surf, and then there is definitely Alicia (Marriott), Liz (Pluimers) and Courtney leading the way,” she said.
“I’ll try to stay with them. I train with them and I try to do that in training, so I hope I can in this first race.
“Being an hour race there will be some tactics and a need to conserve energy and stay focused, but the pace will be fast and there will be no room for mistakes.”