Kiwi sprinters perform in Australian series

Sunday, 27 November 2011

New Zealand surf lifesavers again showed a liking for Australian sand at a carnival in Queensland today.

A five-strong Kiwi team, part of the New Zealand high performance squad, competed at the second round of the Fastest Man on the Sand series, coming away with three gold medals.

National beach flags champion Chanel Hickman battled back from recent illness to capture the women's flags title, heading off rising City of Perth star Brittanny Brymer in the final.  She was unable to front for the beach sprint, where Mount Maunganui's Arna Wright finished fourth.

In the men's division, Fitzroy flyer Paul Cracroft-Wilson triumphed in dramatic fashion, after eight-time Australian champion Simon Harris made a shock comeback.  But the 37-year-old broke in the final, giving Cracroft-Wilson a comfortable victory.

Unfortunately the Kiwi strained his knee in the early rounds of the sprints and didn't line up for the final but 17-year-old Papamoa sprinter Kodi Harman stepped up in style.

Harman, who won the New Zealand open title as a 16-year-old earlier this year, overcame Australian under-19 champion Ben Mitchell in a photo-finish.

"I had a pretty bad start so just had to hunt him down," Harman, who'd earlier finished sixth in the beach flags, said. "I had a strong finish and just felt really relaxed and got him on the line."

Piha's Emily Hodges also featured, finishing fourth in the under-17 women's flags final.

The rest of the New Zealand A team had an extended training session at Coff's Harbour, where they competed in a craft carnival yesterday.

Among the highlights were Chris Moors (Red Beach) finishing eighth in the ironman, Aimee Berridge (Mount Maunganui) placing sixth in the women's ski race and Mairangi Bay's Danielle McKenzie grabbing third in the under-19 ski final.

McKenzie also picked up bronze in the under-19 board, while Midway's Cory Taylor was fourth in the unde-19 men's board.

The New Zealand women's team also won both the ski and board race relays, with Berridge teaming up with Wright and Nikki Cox in the board and Cox and McKenzie in the ski.