Ali’s perfect day as Rogers returns to top of Coolangatta Gold
Ironman legend Ali Day (Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club) has extended his reign as the greatest ever athlete to compete in the Shaw and Partners Financial Services Coolangatta Gold, winning his 9th title on the Gold Coast today.
Day, who has won the race every time he’s started, was eager to add another Coolangatta Gold title to his trophy cabinet, but knew it wasn’t going to be an easy feat with one of the strongest fields ever assembled.
Reigning Nutri-Grain IronMan champion Matt Bevilacqua spearheaded the chase pack that featured world Ironman champion Cory Taylor and veteran ironman Kendrick Louis.
“These Coolangatta Gold races get harder and harder every year for a lot of different reasons. Today, obviously the weather and my competitors. The field was stacked with guys I’ve raced and trained with for a really long period of my career.
“I’ve got so much respect for them and when they said they were both doing it, it gives you inspiration and makes you want to do the race,” he said.
The 33-year-old found himself in an unfamiliar position, trailing after the opening ski leg, but knew he could count on his strength in the swim, and was able to lead for the remainder of the gruelling 41.8km race.
“I really like the swim leg, it’s my bread and butter. But you’re still really worried because Bevy (Matt Bevilacqua) is one of the best ironmen ever and that’s sort of where I made my move.
“I just had to chip away, and try and get a bit of a gap. My calf was actually a little bit sore when I got off the ski, and I was a bit worried in the swim and the board, but I put my shoes on and it just held up.
“You can train for that run over and over again during preparation, but it still doesn’t feel like the race. It’s a bloody tough race, and I’m super stoked to have another one under my belt,” he said.
It was an emotional win for Day, who announced he and wife Kel are expecting another baby in 2024 earlier in the week, but also shared the victory with two and a half year old son Danny and the rest of his support crew.
“I don’t remember much from when I was 2.5, but he’ll have photos and things to go off. It definitely gives you a bit of extra strength today when you are out there in the hurt locker.
“It definitely hasn’t been an easy time in the preparation for this, but I’ve got a great support crew who have been with me through the last 20 weeks and I’m really grateful for them,” he said.
Bevilacqua finished in second place, followed by Taylor in third.
Fellow Gold Coaster Lana Rogers returned to the top of the Coolangatta Gold podium, after winning her first title in 2019.
Having made the move south from Alexandra Headland to Northcliffe Surf Life Saving Club in the off season, Rogers said she was so proud that all of her hard work has paid off.
“It does not feel real at all. It’s been a long four months of preparation, and it’s been a big four months but I’ve just learnt to embrace the process,” Rogers said.
“To win it once is special, but to win it twice is unbelievable. I want to write myself in the history books, I’ve watched this race since I was 9 years old and I’ve watched Ali win it 9 times now.
“It’s very special to me, I think it’s the toughest race to win in surf lifesaving and only the toughest athletes race it,” she said.
It was a hot day at Coolangatta, making for tough racing conditions and pushing the ironwomen to their limits and forcing Rogers’ Northcliffe teammate Georgia Miller to withdraw on the final run leg.
“I’m sharing this one with Naomi Flood and Georgia Miller, we did this whole prep together and it’s really, really special,” she said.
“It’s been a long four months of preparation, and it’s been a big four months but I’ve just learnt to embrace the process. We’ve got a big season ahead of us, so it’s exciting times and I’m so happy that it’s starting this way,” she said.
Rounding out the Ironwoman podium was Ironwoman legend Courtney Hancock in second, and Surfers Paradise young gun Lucy Derbyshire in third.
For full results from the 2023 Shaw and Partners Financial Services Coolangatta Gold – click here.