Nathan Meyer, right,   and Trevor Hendy, left, congratulate Phil Clayton on winning the 2000  World Ironman Championship. Meyer
Nathan Meyer, right, and Trevor Hendy, left, congratulate Phil Clayton on winning the 2000 World Ironman Championship. Meyer

Meyer returns chasing Gold

By AAP and TONY WHITE

THIS year's Coolangatta Gold will mark the return to ironman racing for two of the sport's greats, Nathan Meyer and Phil Clayton.

Meyer, who hails from Grafton, and Clayton, both 30, are former world ironman champions and have been lured back to the sport by the iconic 46km race to be staged on the Gold Coast on October 15.

Clayton won his world title at Manly in 2000, while Meyer won the crown twice, in 1996 and 1998.

They will line up against some of the best ironmen of the modern era including two-time world champion Zane Holmes, defending champion Caine Eckstein and his brother, reigning Australian Ironman champion Shannon Eckstein.

Gold Coast-based Meyer, who retired from competition after the 2000 world titles and subsequently worked at a health resort for several years, is now a firefighter with Queensland Firefighting and Rescue.

"I've put my hat in the ring for a crack at the Coolangatta Gold and I'm really looking forward to it," Meyer said yesterday.

"One final hit out before I hang up the togs for good.

"I'm very fit, I'd even question if I've ever been fitter. In this sort of race I'm coming into my prime.

"It's not about sprinting. It's survival of the fittest. I've done the race once before and had plenty of experience in these long distance sorts of races like the Molokai board paddle in Hawaii.

"Mentally I'm really prepared and physically, come September when I taper off after the long stuff I'm doing at present, I'll hopefully be right.

"I'm not going in this for a lark. I'm very focused on trying to win it."

While he might have come out of retirement to debut in the event, Clayton's desire to win remained undiminished.

"I've never competed in a Coolangatta Gold so my main motivation to race was to say that I finished one, but in saying that I won't be racing to finish second," Clayton said.

The former world champion was relishing a chance to upstage the generation that had followed him.

"Ironman racing has had a changing of the guard in recent years and I've never really had a shot at competing against the young guys, so I will be looking forward to proving that this sport isn't just about the Zane, Caine and Shannon show."

The Coolangatta Gold comprises six-legs with three runs as well as ski, board and swim stages.



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