SURF SPORTS: Jack Newton loves a challenge. The harder, the better.
Recently he took on one of his toughest, competing in the Queensland Canoe Marathon Championships and the iconic Coolangatta Gold on the same weekend.
The 14-year-old powered home on the 8km course to come second in the under-16 division at the canoe championships at Lake Samsonvale to qualify for the nationals in May next year.
The following day he placed third in the under-15/16 youth challenge in the Coolangatta Gold, the gruelling ironman event on the Gold Coast.
Jack said a good recovery meant he backed up well and was ready to go on Sunday.
He explains how his experienced surf coach Cyril Thomasson got him into canoeing to hone his surf ski skills.
"Sitting in a kayak is like sitting on a stick. It's really hard to balance in and you have to have some really good core strength for the K1,” Jack said.
"I haven't raced 8km before and it was pretty hard.
"Three ks into the race my left shoulder blew up a bit and I dropped back a bit but with about 2km to go I just let rip.
"I put the pain aside and I was probably only 10m behind in the end. I was really focused. I just didn't want to come third.”
Jack said he was pretty happy with his third-placed finish in the Coolangatta Gold event, which consists of three soft sand run legs, a 400m swim and 500m board.
Jack was up against more than 30 competitors, some of them two years his senior.
He stormed home on the final 150m run to finish third in a thrilling race where just 10m separated first from fifth.
Jack has been involved in surf life saving for about five years, and has been competing for three of them.
"All the southern kids have been doing it their whole lives so I've just had to catch up,” he said.
"Dad encouraged me to try nippers and I found I really liked it and it all went from there.
"I love everything about it - the challenge, the competition and the hard work that comes with it.
"Winning the under-14 division of the Coolangatta Gold last year is probably the highlight of my career so far but I would love to win the longer course one day.”
Jack (pictured) is working towards the Lifesaving World Championships in Adelaide in November next year, with his next assignment the 2017 North Australian Championships in Mackay early next month.
His training regime consists of pool swimming seven times a week, board and ironman training three times a week, gym sessions and running.
Dad Richard marvels at his young son's commitment.
He is up at 4am every day to make the trip to Rockhampton to train with Shane Kingston at Rocky City Swimming Club and after school spends several hours fine-tuning other aspects of his sport with coach Thomasson.
"Jack's very dedicated to the cause and very clear on where he wants to go,” Richard said.
"He's got a big motor and he really likes to test himself.
"I don't have to tell him to do anything. He knows what he has to do and he does it.
"He's got great coaches pointing him in the right direction and he's certainly on target for the year.”