BATTLE OF SEXES
By TONY WHITE
YAMBA'S two-time women's world kneeboard champion Kathy Pryor is preparing to take on the men at their own game.
The 2004 Daily Examiner Sports Star of the Year winner has entered the open kneeboard section against all comers in the the Pacific Hotel Yamba Far North Coast Regional Surfing Titles in Yamba this weekend.
Since noted hustler and male chauvinist Bobby Riggs took on Billy Jean King before 30,000 fans in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match up in 1973 ? he was thrashed after earlier beating Australia's Margaret Court? champion women athletes taking on males in sporting events has sparked argument, differing opinions and media attention.
Multiple Australian surfing champion Layne Beachley and Swedish golfer Anika Sorenstam are two recent examples.
However, Pryor's reasons for taking on the males centres around her love of competition, rather than trying to further any feminist cause.
"I see it as just another contest to go in, another chance to compete," the 43-year-old said. "I just thought it is here in town, so why not.
"It's sport, another chance to go out in another event.
"I've taken on the guys before. It's definitely a lot harder then surfing against women only.
"I bust my guts. It makes me push really hard and it's such a physical challenge.
"So far I've done all right."
Pryor's first 'sexes' challenge came when she entered the 35-45-year-old men's section at the world kneeboard titles at Alexandra Headlands in 2002.
"It was pretty amazing I got through a couple of heats," she said. "The top men's standard is very high. Guys like Baden Smith and David Parkes surf unreal.
"But normally when your out there competing, the men egg you on. It's a real good experience."
Pryor's recent foray in the same section at the world titles in Tahiti last year ? where she won back-to-back women's titles ? was somewhat different however.
After making the semi-finals she was forced to withdraw from the men's through injury to concentrate on the women's section.
"I go out and wish everyone a good session, hoping they get some good waves and just try and do my best," she said. "In Tahiti there was one Australian and a Kiwi who took a bit of exception to me doing well.
"Everyone's got an ego and sometimes I guess it can be a bit deflating for the (men) if a woman is beating them.
"There was a bit of nastiness. A couple of guys got dirty and were really snakey."
Pryor's preparation hit a hurdle this week when she was bed-ridden with the flu.