Eckstein in Dougherty's sights

WHILE series favourite Shannon Eckstein was doing his usual business, Yamba’s Hugh Dougherty sent his own message to rivals in the opening rounds of the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Series last weekend.

Eckstein was always going to be tough to beat at Kurrawa Beach but Dougherty came as close as anyone, registering two runner-up finishes in rounds 1 and 2 of season 2010.

Dougherty conceded adopting a low-key approach to the new season but he produced a strong showing to muscle past returning star Ky Hurst for a spot on the podium.

The Christmas period left Dougherty by his own admission slightly underprepared for the series.

But his top three finish is a good omen considering he stood beside an Olympian and the defending series champion.

Dad Jim Dougherty was thrilled with the result.

“We are extremely happy,” he said.

“He’s pretty placid but he was very happy with the way he performed over the two days.”

Pre-race talk of a top-five series finish for Dougherty was soon forgotten with the Tugan ironman now setting the radar even higher.

He could be eyeing his first overall series win – if he can get past one man.

“That (first place) is a possibility but he needs to beat Shannon Eckstein to be able to win it but he is certainly in with a chance now,” Jim Dougherty said.

Rounds 3 and 4 of the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman series are at Alexandra Headlands, the Sunshine Coast on February 6 and 7.

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