A proud Courtney Hancock has erased her demons from last summer, running down her rivals to claim a historic fourth Coolangatta Gold crown.
The 33-year-old’s victory came despite being more than a minute behind leader Danielle McKenzie heading into the final 8.2km run leg of the 41.8km surf lifesaving endurance on Sunday.
With defending champion Lana Rogers succumbing to exhaustion and withdrawing during the run and 2018 winner Georgia Miller unable to keep up the pace, Hancock caught up with McKenzie at the turn.
The pair then ran neck-and-neck over the next four kilometres back to Coolangatta Beach before it was Hancock who found that little bit extra to become the first woman to win four Golds in the event’s history.
Victory was made all the more sweet after a disastrous Ironman series last summer in which Hancock, the three-time champion, finished a lowly 11th overall.
“I can probably stand here and say that was my proudest one yet,” Hancock said.
“I lost it just at the end there really and then I kind of in my mind – they talk about in sport those moments, and you don’t have them often, but it’s like how bad do you really want this.
“And I was like, ‘yeah, I really want this one. I’m not going to be happy with second’.”
Hancock said the disappointments of the 2020-21 Ironman series were a major inspiration – as she surpassing three-time Coolangatta Gold champions Hayley Bateup and Elizabeth Pluimers.
“I definitely walked away from the series incredibly disappointed,” she said.
“We won’t go into that, I never make excuses, but I certainly wasn’t racing like myself.
“It was a part of me that was like, that’s not me. I know there’s more in here and it’s nothing to do with age. I knew it wasn’t.
“I didn’t race that to prove anything to anyone or prove anything to myself.
“I want to do it because I love this sport and one day I’m not going to be able to do it.
“So I wanted to tick that off.”