Surf star battles to qualify in elite ironwoman series

By TONY WHITE

YAMBA'S Alyce Bennett has realised a life-long dream qualifying for the rich Kellogs Nutri Grain Series.

The 18-year-old ironwoman surf star finished seventh in the trials final at Burleigh Heads, Queensland, over the weekend against 30 competitors chasing 10 qualifying spots.

And amazingly, Bennett qualified after enduring a loser's repechage after a disastrous first round.

Bennett will now join surf life saving's 10 best elite racers including Haley Bateup chasing $50,000 in prizemoney during the Nutri Grain Series final at Coogee Beach on January 27 and 28.

"I'm just absolutely thrilled, completely stoked," the vivacious princess of the waves told The Daily Examiner from the Gold Coast yesterday.

"I can remember speaking to the paper years ago saying it would be a dream if I could ever do it, it's ever competitor's dream, to do it is just absolutely fantastic. I still can't believe it."

Bennett, a former Daily Examiner Sports Star of the Year finalist, moved to Miami on the Gold Coast late last year to further her career and joined North Burleigh Surf Club.

Bennett's chances were nearly wiped out in the opening round when competitors at her end of the starting line were swamped by waves just before the start.

"I was really nervous and our end got hit by waves and the other end all got out cleanly," she recalled. "We were playing catch up throughout.

"Thank God for the repechage."

Against 16 girls with only eight to go through, Bennett sizzled and finished second to qualify for the semi final which she won brilliantly before finishing seventh in the final.

After the final Bennett was swamped by well wishers.

"Yeah, it was really neat. A lot of the girls from the academy and other club's came up and congratulated me. There were a lot of well wishers which was really nice," she said.

Bennett's parents Grant and Jo were at the beach to cheer on their daughter.

Bennett's parents Grant and Jo were at the beach to cheer on their daughter.

"We're absolutely delighted," Jo Bennett said.

"Alyce is a very determined young lady.

"She's worked very hard and went up there (Gold Coast) hoping to do it (qualify) and it's just wonderful she's been able to do it."



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