- by: Amanda Lulham
- From: Herald Sun
- December 18, 2011 7:15PM
Courtney Hancock won her first individual round of the IronWomen series. Picture: Adam Head Herald Sun
NORTHCLIFFE surf life saving star Courtney Hancock smashed her final hoodoo in the sands of Surfers Paradise with a win in the season-opening IronWoman race.
Last year’s series champion has enjoyed a stellar 2011, also winning the Australian title and the Coolangatta Gold, but had never previously won an individual round of the IronWoman series.
Even then, the 23-year-old had to fight off a challenge from clubmate Liz Pluimers as the duo went neck-and-neck until the closing stages.
Nothing separated them going in to the final ski leg but Pluimers had a hiccup paddling through the breaking waves and Hancock seized her chance, pulling away to win.
It was a trifecta for Northcliffe with Kristyl Smith finishing third.
Hancock said the win should silence the doubters who thought her title was shallow because she had never won a series race.
“I think it will,” she said.”But I really don’t take much notice of the negative comments.
“There’s a lot of people who have always believed in me.”
Her duel with Pluimers made compelling viewing and Hancock said she enjoyed the rivalry.
“I think it’s great for the sport,” she said.
“I always remember watching how close Shannon Eckstein and Zane Holmes were in the men’s and how exciting that has been.
“But Kristyl Smith is also really tough to beat and the depth in the field is really strong, so I think you are going to see more than just the two of us battling it out.”
Pluimers, who won four out of the five races last year only to miss out on the title with one forgettable finish in Victoria, was also excited about the healthy rivalry with her clubmate.
“Courtney and I have had a great rivalry the last couple of years and it is great for the sport,” she said.
The series moves to Portsea for round two on January 8, where Pluimers finished 17th last year, costing her the title.
“Last year was a shocker, but it’s still one of the beaches I really like competing at,” she said.