The two New Zealand teams have both finished on the podium with over 60 medals at the Lifesaving World Championships (LWC), with the Junior Black Fins becoming youth World Champions by finishing first, while the Black Fins finished a close second after five days of intense racing in Adelaide.
The Junior Black Fins can now call themselves World Champions in the youth category after they fought back from an overnight points deficit on Saturday, to finish on top at the end of the final day. This was a historic result for the Under-19 team, who have never won the world title with the category being previously dominated by Australia.
Junior Black Fins Coach, Matt Cairns, said they are “so proud” of the Junior Black Fins who fought “incredibly hard” to get the title for the very first time.
“It was an effort by the whole team and management to dig deep for the silver fern to get this result. It had never been done before but we knew we had the best team for the job.”
“The team showed amazing resilience when things got tough and kept fighting by putting out massive performances and a lot of personal bests after four days of extremely tough racing,” he added.
The team broke another three New Zealand pool records today, and took home an impressive nine medals, including five golds, on the last day of competition alone.
Lochlainn O'Connor (Mount Maunganui) was a standout on the final day, by breaking two records himself, and bringing home three of the Junior Black Fins’ gold medals. One of those was a team effort with the 4x25m Manikin Relay, which he won alongside team-mates Zac Reid, Oscar Williams and Declan Dempster.
Meanwhile, the Black Fins finished the World Championships in second, a mere 20 points behind Australia. With 20 points awarded for a race win, the margin was small, and despite the Black Fins putting in a “mammoth effort” on Sunday, they simply couldn’t catch Australia after strong performances from their camp too.
Black Fins Head Coach Jason Pockock, said “we are disappointed with the outcome, but proud our effort all week. We have had four days of amazing performances but unfortunately for us, we were beaten by a better team. To Kurt and the Australian team, we say congratulations, thank you for the battle and you were simply better than us over the five days.”
“Regardless of the result, we are very proud of our efforts and continue to be impressed by all the Black Fins and their attitude.”
Their last day was filled with strong results including three gold and six silver medals across a variety of events. The New Zealand relay teams, made up of four athletes in each race, won gold in the Ocean Woman and Ocean Man relays which is known to be a tough event that combines a swim, ski, board and sprint leg.
However, Danielle McKenzie and Cory Taylor both took silver in the most gruelling event of the whole competition – the individual Ocean Woman and Ocean Man races. This event covers a 1,200 metre course that includes a swim leg, a board leg, a surf ski leg, and a beach sprint finish – but the catch – they had to do it three times in a row, back-to-back, with only a couple of minutes rest in between each run.
Olivia Corrin and Max Beattie also put in a huge effort during this notoriously difficult and exhausting event, by both securing fourth in their respective races.
The Black Fins also secured the trophy for top team in the pool. While the points were a tie with Australia, the Kiwi team won the pool trophy after they had secured more gold medals in the pool than their Australian counterparts. They also got a podium in the Simulated Emergency Response Competition (SERC) by taking third, behind France and Norway.
Both teams agree that the support from New Zealand, both here in Adelaide and back home, that made a difference to the athletes and for that, they’re grateful.
Black Fins Team Manager, Mark Weatherall, said “We would like to thank the families who travelled here [Adelaide] to support the team. It was clear they were the loudest and the best supporters in the world. We also had amazing support from home which we are very appreciative for.”
Weatherall also wanted to thank all the partners who made this campaign possible.
“On behalf of the Black Fins and Junior Black Fins, we want to thank everyone who helped get us here, particularly High Performance Sport New Zealand, Under Armour and Endeavour Sport. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without you,” he said.
Yesterday marked the end of the National Youth and Open team’s competition, with the New Zealand IRB [Inflatable Rescue Boat] team next to represent New Zealand, who compete on Wednesday 29 November at Glenelg Beach in the National IRB competition.
Junior Black Fins:
To see a full list of all the medals and records by the Black Fins and Junior Black Fins at LWC, click here.
Photo: Lester Kelly
Alana McIsaac, Media & Communications Manager
Phone 027 515 7157