Caine Eckstein and Courtney Hancock’s iron wills drove them to Coolangatta Gold | thetelegraph.com.au

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Caine Eckstein and Courtney Hancock’s iron wills drove them to Coolangatta Gold | thetelegraph.com.au.

Women's winner Courtney Hancock
TWO things should have prevented them from winning the Coolangatta Gold. Instead, Caine Eckstein believes glandular fever helped him to a record fifth crown, while grief motivated Courtney Hancock to a historic surf lifesaving grand slam. Hancock channelled the emotion of recently losing her former lifesaver grandfather Ron Goodenough into claiming a maiden victory in the 30.5km torture test in which she became the first person in history to win a professional ironwoman series title, the Australian ironwoman crown and the mantle of Coolangatta Gold winner in the same year.

“My goal, before I retire, was to get these three,” Hancock said. “I didn’t mind what year. But to do it all in nine months, I’m speechless.”

The 23-year-old new queen of the surf and sand said her desire to make her family smile again after the death of her grandfather, and a chance meeting with some little fans, had inspired her 3hr 20min 42sec victory over perennial podium placegetter Liz Pluimers and three-time winner Hayley Bateup.

Eckstein said glandular fever in the off-season had forced him to allow his body to rest. And yesterday the 25-year-old, who said in the lead-up he felt “better than ever” claimed his fifth win from five attempts in the 46.6km men’s race.

But the Queenslander, who said nerves had prevented him from sleeping the night before the race, said his fifth victory, made more difficult by strong headwinds, had been his toughest.

“I only did seven weeks when usually I do 14 to 16 weeks,” he said. “Luckily it worked out but I only got about 45 minutes’ sleep last night.”

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