Courtney Hancock
Courtney Hancock

Courtney Hancock's Ironwoman battle

BATTLING bluebottles, pounding surf and a hot field, Courtney Hancock showed her best form of the summer to race into second place in the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series at Coolum yesterday.

The former Sawtell star finished a gallant second in yesterday's fourth round of the series, beating Hayley Bateup in a desperate sprint to the finish. They both trailed home winner and series leader Naomi Flood.

The good result followed on from Courtney's fourth placing in Saturday's third round.

Her efforts at the weekend were light years away from her struggling start to the series at Kurrawa three weeks ago, when she could make it to only 14th place.

“I'm really happy with how things have gone this weekend,” she said.

“I had a rough start at Kurrawa and was really disappointed but to come back to form and get a fourth and a second makes me really happy.

“It puts me up there for Coogee.”

Competitors in the Nutri-Grain series enjoyed slightly easier conditions yesterday after battling wild waves on Saturday.

They also spent the weekend dodging bluebottles that closed several Sunshine Coast beaches last week and stung a number of competitors, including Courtney's younger sister Bonnie, who finished 16th yesterday.

Courtney started solidly in the ski leg yesterday after the event had been reduced to a normal Ironwoman format because of the tough conditions.

She finished the leg in sixth place after most of the field were hit by big waves on the way out to the turning buoys.

The world surf race champion then improved to third in the swim, riding some huge waves to trail only Flood and Bateup. Courtney then caught up with Bateup as they paddled their boards to the buoys and they went stroke for stroke to the beach.

It was then a sprint to the finish which Courtney narrowly won after the pair nearly clashed on the final bend. “Hayley's a very quick runner but I got off a little earlier because I've got longer legs and I could hear people yelling 'come on, Courtney' so I just went for it,” she said.

The series final at Coogee on Sunday, February 22, will be worth double points, meaning Courtney will have to finish at least three places ahead of Flood if she is to claim the top prize.

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