1,750 nippers to hit the Gold Coast for lifesaving champs

A wave of nippers will hit the Gold Coast this Friday, when the 2016 Queensland Youth Surf Life Saving Championships kick off at North Burleigh (March 11-13).

More than 1,750 of the sport’s top junior lifesavers, from as far north as Port Douglas right through to the southern tip of the Gold Coast, will line up across three days of action to contest the championships, which remain the pinnacle sporting event for all nippers aged 11 to 15 years old.

The youngsters will compete against each other in a variety of lifesaving disciplines including the ironman and ironwoman events, surf races, surf board paddles, and beach sprints and flags.

Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) sports manager Stuart Hogben said it was great to see so many local lifesavers lining up to compete.

“Participation is such a big part of surf lifesaving – it’s all about getting out there and giving it your best shot, and that’s what makes this such a wonderful event each year,” he said.

“Our competitor numbers have grown from roughly 1,640 last year to in excess of 1,750 this year, which is great to see.

“In addition to Gold and Sunshine Coast competitors, there’ll be teams from Far North Queensland, Townsville, Ayr, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and everywhere in between” he said.

Mr Hogben said the Championships were a great opportunity to engage with younger members and develop future champions of the sport.

“The Championships are a great training ground for young competitors who want to become the next Shannon Eckstein or Courtney Hancock but, more importantly, it’s also a great way to keep kids motivated and involved in the surf lifesaving movement,” he said.

“At the end of the day, we want to encourage these kids to lead an active and healthy lifestyle, but we also want to encourage them to remain in the movement and eventually develop into fully-fledged patrolling lifesavers,” he said.

At last year’s Championships, it was Maroochydore who took home the overall honours, ahead of Alexandra Headland and Northcliffe.

As part of the official proceedings of this year’s event, Surf Life Saving Queensland will present the winner of the Breaka Under-14 Junior Surf Lifesaver of the Year award on Saturday afternoon of the Championships.

The winner is judged on a range of criteria, including their contribution to their club, attendance and participation at training, sporting achievements in surf lifesaving, surf lifesaving knowledge, and general attitude and commitment.

This week will also see the launch of the inaugural The University of Queensland Secondary School Surf League on Thursday 10 March, featuring schools from across the state.

The Youth Championships kick off an action-packed fortnight of surf lifesaving on the Gold Coast, with the state’s top ironmen and women set to hit North Burleigh the following weekend for the senior competition (March 18-20).

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