An influx of bluebottles suspended competition late in the day at the Queensland Youth Surf Life Saving Championships, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of almost 1,800 nippers who descended on North Burleigh for the annual event.
The championships, which kicked off today and run through to Sunday, will see the state’s top junior lifesavers from as far north as Port Douglas right through to Rainbow Bay hit the surf and sand on the Gold Coast in their quest for one of the prestigious state titles up for grabs.
The Championships is the pinnacle sporting event each year for Queensland nippers aged 11 to 15 years old.
Reigning champion Maroochydore made a solid start to its title defence, winning a number of events across the day, including gold in the under-12 male surf board relay, under-13 female surf board relay, under-13 female surf team and under-13 male surf board rescue, to name a few.
Maroochydore team manager Nathan McGrath said he was really pleased with how the club had performed across the first day of competition.
“We’d love to go back-to-back, but there are a lot of good clubs out there, including the likes of Currumbin, Northcliffe, and Alex Heads just to name a few,” he said.
“It’s going to be hard to do, but that’s our aim across the weekend,” he said.
Meanwhile, there was plenty of joy for other clubs across the state, including Gold Coast’s Northcliffe, which took out the under-11 female surf team and under-12 male Cameron relay before Eva Parish won gold in the under-11 female 1km beach run.
Hervey Bay added its name to the winner’s list when Carla Bull took out the under-14 female beach sprint, while Bundaberg’s Thomas Walker won the under-14 male sprint. Mudjimba won the under-14 male beach relay.
Tannum Sands, Southport, North Burleigh, Currumbin, Kawana Waters, Alexandra Headland and Sunshine Beach also took home gold medals on the first day of competition.
Northcliffe President David Shields said it had been a challenging, but successful, day for the club.
“It’s been a great start so far. The conditions down here have been testing for everybody, and on the high tide this morning it was particularly tough in the craft events, but it’s great to see kids as young as ten having a real good crack,” he said.
“We’re very proud of all our kids. Our under-12 age group is going really well, and they’ve won a couple of gold medals, but on the whole they’re a great, close and committed group. They love being involved in junior activities, and at the end of the day, that’s the best thing they can do,” he said.
Despite training in flat water back home, North Queensland’s under-12 female surf team defied the odds to take out the bronze medal in challenging conditions.
North Queensland coach Colin Cameron said he was stoked with how the club had been travelling so far.
“I think our kids are finding it very challenging but, at the same time, they’re competing as hard as they can and they’re having a blast,” he said.
“Our motto is to give it your best shot, involve yourself as best you can, and if you come out of it with a medal or a placing, that’s a bonus,” he said.
Despite the suspension of competition late in the afternoon, Surf Life Saving Queensland sports manager Stuart Hogben said the first day of the Championships had produced some fantastic results.
“This is the pinnacle sporting event for our junior members each year, and it’s fantastic to see the passion and enthusiasm of these young lifesavers who have come together from literally all corners of Queensland to compete,” he said.
“These kids are the future of surf lifesaving and it was great to see more than 1,750 youngsters out there giving it their best.
“It was disappointing that we needed to suspend competition but, at the end of the day, the safety of competitors and officials is the number one priority,” he said.
Mr Hogben said a risk assessment would be conducted tomorrow morning before determining whether it was safe to restart competition.
For a full list of results, please see: http://sportqld.carnival.sls.com.au/eventmgr/results/report/public/456/0
To view photos from across the day, visit http://www.facebook.com.au/SurfLifeSavingQueensland