Kurrawa’s Matt Bevilacqua will defy history and etch his name alongside the sport’s greatest if he can successfully defend his ironman title at this weekend’s Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships at North Burleigh on the Gold Coast (March 18-20).
Only three ironmen in the past 30 years have managed to win back-to-back Queensland championships – Trevor Hendy, Zane Holmes and Shannon Eckstein – and the fact all three have Australian and World titles to their names as well shows how difficult it can be.
In last year’s final, Bevilacqua produced a near-faultless display to take the title from the likes of Eckstein, Ali Day, Matt Poole and Ky Hurst.
It was viewed by many in the sport as a coming of age performance for the 23-year-old, and kick started a remarkable run of form which saw him take out the gruelling Molokai 2 Oahu paddleboard event in his first attempt, before finishing third overall in this year’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Series.
Twelve months down the track and Bevilacqua will line up at North Burleigh as one of the favourites, but admits he’s not feeling any extra pressure following his breakthrough win last year.
“It’s been a massive 12 months and I’m just stoked to be where I am at the moment to be honest. I’m not feeling too much pressure, which is good,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence from my results over the past 12 months but I think more than anything I’ve been focusing on my training and a lot more on myself, and my results have come from that,” he said.
The Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships represent the last hit-out for athletes ahead of the Australian Championships in April, but Bevilacqua said he won’t be taking his foot off the pedal.
“A lot of people use the State Championships as a springboard into Aussies, but you’re not in this sport forever, and a state title is a pretty cool thing to have,” he said.
“I’m definitely keen to back it up and hopefully get another state title win – that’d be great and it would definitely be great for my confidence leading into Aussies.”.
The Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships kick off at North Burleigh this Friday, with more than 1,600 competitors expected to hit the surf and sand across three days of action.
Some of the biggest names in the sport will be in action across the weekend, and Bevilacqua is tipping Shannon Eckstein to prove the hardest to beat.
“He’s clinical and he’s the benchmark in our sport at the moment, and I think anyone would say that,” Bevilacqua said.
“He’s definitely the man to beat, but he is beatable, and I’m sure everyone on that start line and in those finals will be raring to go, so it should be a good race,” he said.