Courtney Hancock grits her teeth as she chases Liz Pluimers in the Ironwoman event at Coolum.
Courtney Hancock grits her teeth as she chases Liz Pluimers in the Ironwoman event at Coolum. Mark Donaldson

Hancock claims Australian title

COURTNEY Hancock broke through for her first national ironwoman title at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships at Kurrawa yesterday.

Hancock, who grew up on the Coffs Coast before joining the powerful Northcliffe club on the Gold Coast, took advantage of a mistake by Rebecca Creedy on the board to open up a winning break.

Hancock celebrated the length of the finishing chute as she raced to the greatest moment of her career, with Northcliffe club-mate Elizabeth Pluimers second and Creedy (Metropolitan Caloundra) third.

It was the second major triumph of Hancock’s season after she won the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain series earlier in the year.

She won that series through her consistency but was unable to win an individual event.

Yesterday, however, she turned consistency into conquest as she enjoyed a landmark victory.

The race looked set to go to Creedy as the Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning swimmer led through the swim and ski legs.

Creedy still held a handy advantage as she headed for home on the board but then slipped off as she prepared to catch a wave and Hancock rode past on the same wave and into the history books.

“I saw that wave come up and in the swim I actually missed the wave so I said to myself if an opportunity comes up I have to go for it,” Hancock said.

“I was confident in my fitness and I went hard from the start.”

Hancock said failing to win a race in the Kellogg’s series didn’t put any extra pressure on her but she was still happy to prove any knockers wrong.

“Every time I race I go out there to enjoy myself,” she said.

“I love this sport, I love the surf and I never put any pressure on myself.

“I was just so glad to get a win. A lot of people probably doubted me over the season so just to get out there today I did it for myself and I’m so happy with that.”

Hancock invited anyone who doubted she could win a big race to watch a replay of yesterday’s event.

“I knew I could do it, I had belief in myself and I’m so happy,” she said.

“Since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to win the series and I’ve wanted to win the Aussies and to do it in one season at 22, I’m absolutely overwhelmed.

“It still hasn’t hit me that I’ve won the title and I don’t think it will for a while either.”

Hancock thanked her coaches and family, especially sister Bonnie, who finished 11th in yesterday’s final, and her father Richard, who was her craft handler.

“Having Bonnie out there really calms me,” Hancock said.

“I was so glad to have Dad there at the end. He said to me before the race, ‘you can do this’.

“He had the biggest smile on his face when I came out of the water and so did I. There are so many emotions but I’m just so happy.”

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