Early gold for Olympic paddlers at Aussie surf titles
Our lifesavers and life guards have saved the day for the Australian Olympic team in the past and these two paddlers are hoping a sweet victory at The Aussies 2021 on the Sunshine Coast is a sign of things to come in Tokyo later this year.
The Avoca trio of Tokyo-bound Lachlan Tame and Riley Fitzsimmons and crewmate Peter Mitchell have snatched the first gold medal of the open competition at the Australian surf life saving titles in the single ski relay.
The pair beat the Northcliffe team of Sam Norton, Tom Norton and Mackenzie Hynard with the Newport trio of Mitchell Trim, Jayke Rees and top ironman Max Brooks third.
"We'll be lining up in the K2 1000m and K4 500m - it's going to be our last opportunity to really practice and perform before we go over to Tokyo,'' Fitzsimmons said after the race.
"So a lot of preparation is going to go into that racing at nationals, really practising those one percenters on and off the water.''
Tame and Fitzsimmons were named in the sprint canoe team to paddle in Tokyo last year - two of the first athletes to have their tickets to Tokyo stamped after the postponement of the games to 2021.
"We always say that the ski relay is such a high testosterone event, there's always great athletes, there's always a couple of Olympians rolling around,'' Tame said.
"We've got two Olympians in one relay team. It's such a high calibre event that you've got these people coming across from another intense sport and bring that edge of racing and professionalism.''
Also in the field was Australian Olympic Team Deputy Chef de Mission and triple Olympian Ken Wallace (Tugun SLSC) and 1996 Olympic kayaker Jim Walker (North Bondi SLSC)).
Paddlers have a strong history of success in the Olympic arena with one of the most memorable wins in recent times the K4 1000m win by Tate Smith, Dave Smith, Murray Stewart and Jacob Clear - all Australian surf life savers - over Hungary and the Czech Republic at the London Olympics in 2012.
At the Beijing Games in 2008, lifeguard Ken Wallace won a paddling gold and a bronze in one of the best moments of the event in China. Wallace is now a coach for the Australian canoe/kayak team.
Originally published as Early gold for Olympic paddlers at Aussie surf