Hancock gets boost ahead of race
SURF lifesaving starlet Courtney Hancock has received a timely boost in her bid to claim a maiden Ironwoman Series race victory in round three at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast tomorrow after she was named as a replacement selection on the recently announced Australian Surf Life Saving team.
Hancock was left shattered after being left out of the original national team for next year’s International Surf Rescue Challenge in New Zealand, saying she felt sick in the stomach when she was told of her omission the day before the series’ most recent round at Bondi.
The 22-year-old masked her disappointment well, grabbing a second consecutive series third place to lock down second spot overall, four points adrift of series leader Liz Pluimers and a point ahead of reigning champion Alicia Marriott.
But things are already looking up for the sport’s glamour girl, with this week’s selection reprieve after one of the team’s original members withdrew, and with the next couple of rounds at Coolum and Portsea, havens for big waves, conditions that suit Hancock down to the ground.
“I feel very honoured to be racing in the green and gold again but I was very, very disappointed about not being originally selected in the team to go to New Zealand,” Hancock said.
“I know the selectors have a very hard job and there is always going to be athletes who think they should be in a team and are upset.
“From my point of view I regard myself as a surf specialist, so I specifically set myself the goal this season of making the surf-based team to New Zealand.
“I am really disappointed in myself that I did not do enough to justify my selection.
“The team was announced the day before the Bondi round and when someone told me that I had missed out I felt sick in my tummy. The hardest thing was then putting my disappointment to the back of my mind so I could focus on my race the next day. I take great pride in representing my country and it is something I will strive to do at every opportunity.”
But Hancock has made a conscious decision to move on from the disappointment and instead focus on what lies ahead.
“Obviously I am very happy about sitting second on the points score after two rounds and that means I am still in contention to win the series,” she said.
“I have been very conscious this year not to get too far ahead of myself and I am only concentrating on Coolum right at the moment, and then after that I will plan for Portsea and then Noosa.
“Every round is so different under the new racing format so you have to look at each race and plan your training and mental approach accordingly.
“My approach to each race is to plan to win and although a race win has eluded me so far, I know I have given everything in every race so I am happy with things.
“Sometimes the difference between winning and placing comes down to a small wave or a stumble so I know I am close and will keep trying my very hardest.”
Hancock is at home in the big surf typical of Coolum and Portsea and sees that as an advantage heading into the business end of the season.
“It is my goal like all the other girls to win a round of the series and with two big surf beaches coming up I am really looking forward to the challenges this will throw at us,” the qualified beauty therapist said.
“I grew up at Sawtell and was always out in the big surf and just loved it.
“There is something special and very exciting about coming down a ‘monster’ from the cans.”
The Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series is being televised this season on Network Ten and One HD, with tomorrow’s three-hour coverage beginning at 2pm.