World Titles Wrap Up

Montpellier, the third-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast, hosted the 2014 Rescue World Life Saving Championships - September 16-17th. Following the success of Rescue 2012, they was plenty of excitement about a trip to France and 2 years later - with plenty of behind the scenes organization - Coogee sent a strong team of athletic masters ready to take on the Europeans in their back yard. Some however weren’t so excited upon arriving at their respective hotels and apartments. After approximately 30 hours of travel, some of our competitors found their shoe box accommodation did not contain bed sheets, pillow cases, soap or vital toilet paper! And that was the highly regarded Presidential Suite Amy and Mihalis had privately upgraded to – as they put the finishing touches on their race preparations! One had to hire all those essentials from the cheeky owners who naturally did not ‘understand’ English. No one dared to ask if they had wifi or even a TV!

Whilst all the results have been previously reported in the TBW, it is important to acknowledge the hard work and dedication by this team. The results were simply outstanding. Even more so considering the European summer had just ended and most of the northern hemisphere competitors were race fit. Quite in contrast to most of the Aussie athletes who endured a tough training regime throughout a cold Sydney winter, had no race practice, heavy jet lag and flat seas. If one could envision Botany Bay on a windy, cloudy day – that was Montpellier! Fortunately day two whipped up a tricky, messy one foot wind swell (following a massive overnight storm) which sorted out a few of the flat water specialists.

The ladies led the charge with Sarah (2 gold, 3 silver), Amy (2 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze), Phil (1 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze) and Sharon (2 gold, 1 silver) pushing Coogee high on the point score in their pet events. A lovely reward for all their dedication and hard work. Amy, Sarah and Linda combined to take out the gold in the 110 years beach relay. The best of the fella’s was Coach Andy Bargenda who powered home for a sliver in the board race.

Traveling some 17,000km for one event isn’t exactly worth the trip. Needless to say Coogee competitors didn’t need much encouragement to participate in events somewhat foreign to them. Helen, Alison and Linda turned aquatic masters and collected a bronze in the 130 years taplin. Not sure they will do it again though. Equally inspiring was Danger, Pod and John Brady who decided last minute to take on the best in the 110 years beach relay. Amazing they even got a team together given that Mihalis, Georg, Matt and Andy suffered mysterious low back, groin and hamstring injuries and declined the offer to run. The hidden gem – apart from Danger at full flight - was John who not only volunteered but took the lead with Usain Bolt like speed during the heats, only to tear his hammy in the final. Nevertheless he was happy telling his teammates “I’ve got the rest of my life to recover”. The boys finished an amazing 6thand Waz, not a baton dropped.

Special mention must go to the beach and flag competitors, many who were on the beach at 7am cheering on their teammates, yet they didn’t compete till 430pm! Some were still going close to 7pm. With no real shelter nearby, sand as hard as concrete and delicious croissants about 2km away, they really had to tough it out in all sorts of weather.  Our ironman Pod, so enthusiastic, fit and keen, he even raced in the wrong age group, but still managed a number of top 10 finishes. German Georg’s laid back approach to competition and life in general was put on display as he had to dig quite deep in a number of events, particularly all the team events which included heats and finals immediately after. Watching Georg work his way through the challenging bank each time was quite a sight. He did recovered quickly enough from his near lung transplant to help Matt and Mihalis to a bronze in the 110 years surf teams.

Overall it was a very successful trip for the Coogee crew. Huge congratulations to all involved. A big thank you also to the families that came along for the ride and to Coogee SLSC for getting behind the team.

Matt

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