Youngest surf lifesaving champ yet gets AIS invite
MOOLOOLABA pocket rocket Nicole Kay has set her sights on the Olympics after sending officials scurrying for the record books at last week's Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
Kay is believed to be the youngest competitor to win an open gold medal at the championships, having produced a boilover to take out the open beach sprint at North Kirra last Saturday.
The Maroochydore High student was 15 years and 54 days old when she beat a strong field that included former world and Australian beach flags champion Melissa Howard and former national beach sprint title winner Laura Shorter.
Kay nominated for the open event on a whim. As she explained it, she wanted to see "how fast these girls" were.
"I wasn't really planning on doing the open, but then I thought I'd give it a go," she said.
"When I got into the semis I couldn't believe it. Then when I got into the final, I thought 'awwww'. I was so happy. I didn't care where I came.
"When I won I was so happy, it was unbelievable."
Kay completed her bronze medallion - an entry requirement for the national championships - only a week before the event.
Surf Life Saving Australia spokesman Ian Hanson confirmed Kay was the youngest winner of the beach sprint title and he was combing the records to confirm she was the youngest winner of an open gold medal, but he believed that to be the case.
A burgeoning star of the beach and track, Kay is being groomed as a future Olympian.
After a stellar showing at the Australian Junior Athletic Championships in Perth in March - when she won gold in the 100m, silver in the 200m and bronze in the 400m in her under-16 age group - she was invited to attend an AIS national high-performance talent squad camp in Canberra next month.
The invitation was made even though she did not meet the age requirements, and on the proviso the Mooloolaba club's beach coach, Peter Roodveldt, also attended.
The invitation also followed Kay's standout performance at the Stawell Gift last month when she qualified for the final of the open 200m - an event open to male and female competitors.
She said she saw herself as a track athlete and had set herself goals for the next few years - starting with the 2015 World Junior Athletics Championships, before the 2018 Commonwealth Games and 2020 Olympics.
Roodveldt said Kay had the makings of an Olympian but her success would depend on how she handled the pressure.
"The organisers were amazed by her performance," he said of her win at the Aussies.