|Not a member? Sign up now!|
South Brighton's Malcolm MacDonald CREDIT: Surf Life Saving New Zealand
South Brighton's Malcolm MacDonald wins the 30-39 beach flags at the national masters surf lifesaving championships in Mount Maunganui today, as he warms up for the full national championships which start tomorrow. CREDIT: Surf Life Saving New Zealand
Malcolm MacDonald owns one of the longest streaks in New Zealand sport but, all of a sudden, it doesn’t seem so important.
The Christchurch fireman will line up, exhausted, at this week’s State New Zealand Surf Life Saving Championships in Mount Maunganui hunting an extraordinary 13th consecutive beach relay title.
If truth be known, however, the 40-year-old will just be glad for the rest after spending the past fortnight pulling 16hr days, helping with the aftermath of Christchurch’s devastating earthquake.
“I wasn’t planning to come up because things have been pretty frantic,” the South Brighton veteran said. “But a couple of days ago, I decided I needed a bit of a break and I was keen to support the kids I coach and to be there to help out the club.”
South Brighton is one of a handful of Christchurch clubs sending reduced contingents to Mount Maunganui, after the nationals were relocated from New Brighton in the wrecked South Island city.
MacDonald will join another beach legend – triple world flags champion Morgan Foster – in the South Brighton beach relay team but the venue switch has proved costly..
“It’s going to be a bit tougher – we were hoping for a harder sand than the Mount because my legs certainly aren’t as young as they used to be and we’ll be missing our former national beach sprint champion Ben Ryan. If we’re going to lose it any year, it will be this one but in saying that, we’re not going to be handing it over on a plate.”
MacDonald won the first of his relay titles in 1999 with South Brighton, inspired Dunedin’s Brighton club to victory the next year, and has been back in Christchurch ever since.
He also won the beach sprint title in 2003 and 2004 and has won numerous minor medals in both the sprint and beach flags during an incredible career.
He won’t be alone in a headlong pursuit of history, however. Foster will be searching for an elusive 10th flags title when the nationals start tomorrow morning, after winning his last in 2006.
Taranaki rival Paul Cracroft-Wilson has won three times since, although both flyers were upset by unheralded Fitzroy sprinter Steve Harris last year.
Mount Maunganui’s female beach relay is trying for their eighth consecutive win, with former world beach sprint champion Holly Moczydlowski involved in every one.
Hawke’s Bay star Daniel Moodie has built an imposing record in his specialist event, having won the last five ironman titles, but his preparation has again been hampered by injury.
Moodie (Westshore) is still recovering from a hand injury that kept him out of last month’s International Surf Challenge, although he proved his tenacity by winning last year despite an ankle injury and the tragic death of his father John.
“It’s not ideal to be heading into the nationals again without being fully fit,” Moodie said. “I watched a lot of young talent racing at the International Surf Challenge and Surf League when I was on the sideline so I’m anticipating racing to be tight this year.”
Gisborne schoolboy Cory Taylor could be one potential challenger, looking to emulate Moodie’s 2006 ‘double’ when he won the open and under-19 ironman titles in the same championships.
The champion Titahi Bay boat crew also have a big task, seeking to become the first crew in nationals history to win a fourth straight long-course title, while Katie Pocock (ski) and Nikki Cox (board) will both be hunting fifth titles in their respective races.
The three-day nationals carnival will attract nearly 1200 lifeguards from all over New Zealand.