- by: Margie McDonald
- From: The Australian
- December 19, 2011 12:00AM
Reigning Kellogg’s champion Courtney Hancock on her way to winning the first leg of the 2011-12 series on the Gold Coast. Picture: Kate Czerny Source: Gold Coast Bulletin
BEAUTICIAN by day . . . ironwoman at the weekends. Courtney Hancock had a truckload of expectation on her shoulders going into yesterday’s opening race of the 2011-12 Kellogg’s ironwoman series.
More than ready to face all that head-on, she still made sure her nails and hair were right.
“I love this sport and while I’m a calm and chilled-out person, when I’m out there racing I’m a little fiery thing,” Hancock said after leading the field of 20 home at Surfers Paradise.
“I got my nails done (on Saturday) and I put a ribbon in my hair today. So I might be a bit obsessive but that’s my thing. I am a bit girlie in wanting to look nice but I get a mean look on my face when I’m competing.”
Hancock was followed across the line by Elisabeth Pluimers, with Kristal Smith in third giving the Northcliffe club the trifecta in the women’s race.
The men’s race was a triumph of a different kind as Coolangatta Gold champion Caine Eckstein finally grabbed the short-course result he had been craving. The 26-year-old is a two-time under-19 Australian ironman champion but had never been able to repeat that effort with the more intense sprint racing.
The Kurrawa clubman finished ahead of Caloundra’s Corey Jones and Alistair Day of Mooloolaba. The surprise was Eckstein’s older brother and reigning Kellogg’s series champion Shannon Eckstein finishing back in eighth spot.
“I was beaten by the better man on the day,” Shannon tweeted.
“Yes, it’s great to get the win around Surfers where my brother Shannon and I grew up,” Eckstein said. “I’d like to do just as well on the shorter courses and there’s definitely a few things I need to work on, but anything can happen at races like Portsea (2nd leg) and Newcastle (3rd).
“I do believe I’m in the best position of my career to race against guys like Shannon and Zane (Holmes) who are better over the shorter distances and I’m really excited for the next three weeks to put in more training and give it a real go.”
As for Hancock, she took a great deal of satisfaction out of the win. Not that she had much to prove after winning the triple crown of surf life saving already this year — the 2010-11 Kellogg’s series in February, the Australian title in April and the Coolangatta Gold in September.
But she had snatched the Kellogg’s series from Pluimers’ clutches without winning any of the five races, her tally reading two seconds, two thirds and a fifth. Pluimers had won four but she bombed at Portsea in Victoria finishing 17th and could not make up the points.
Hancock had heard the talk of being a placegetter rather than calling the podium her own. But her breakthrough national title and Coolangatta crown proved she wasn’t always going to be the bridesmaid.
And she doesn’t intend to start throwing her weight around because she’s winning more often.
“I’ve never gone into a race thinking I’m the one to beat . . . I have a lot of respect for all the other girls,” she said.