A GRIEVING Darren Mercer broke his silence last night to pay tribute to his daughter Jordan following her inspiring win at the world paddleboard championships in Denmark yesterday.
The 23-year-old dedicated her victory in the women's paddleboard distance crown in Copenhagen to her uncle, ironman legend Dean Mercer, who died suddenly from a heart attack on the Gold Coast last week.
Darren has privately mourned his 47-year-old brother's death, but yesterday spoke of the pride for his daughter.
"This was her first race in nearly 12 months and it was always going to be hard adding into that Dean's passing," Darren Mercer told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
"She showed so much heart to win after limited preparation after firstly her foot ... and then her forearm that prevented her from competing at Molokai last month.
"We're so proud."
Jordan was in Australia at the time of Dean's death but was encouraged by family to race in honour of her famous uncle.
And as her uncle did during his stellar career as one of his sports toughest competitors, Mercer showed plenty of grit to achieve the feat in the gruelling distance race.
Jordan penned heartfelt message following the win, paying tribute to Dean, his wife Reen and their four boys.
"I greeted Copenhagen, Denmark, with a broken heart and a broken board," Jordan wrote on Facebook.
"This world title is for my family, especially Reen and my boys.
"Thank you for being with me Uncle Dean. I hope I made you proud."
Post-race, she told journalists: "I just had to win, not just for me but for my family."
"They are going through a tough time and deserve this happiness and joy in their lives right now."
Mercer firstly had to make major repairs to her board just to race and then was unable to break from the field until the final sprint of the 18km race to beat New Zealander Jessica Miller by half a board length.
"Just last night my board arrived at the airport and we discovered that there was a huge crease in it," said Mercer, a nine-time ISA medallist.
"My teammates along with friends from other competing nations stayed up late last night fixing it.
"The first time I saw my board was this morning before the race and I just had faith that things would go my way.
"To paddle for 20km and come down to a sprint finish is the toughest way to have a race go so I knew I had to be really technical and be smart, but you really want to try to push as many girls back as you can."