Defending champion gets set for Cooly Gold

SAKARA BELL

One of Surf Life Saving’s most challenging endurance races, the Coolangatta Gold, returns on October 12 and 13, and 2018 winner Georgia Miller is in training to defend her title.

Georgia Miller

Coolangatta Gold defending champion Georgia Miller is feeling positive about the event, which takes place in a few weeks. Photo: Courtesy Surf Life Saving Australia

 

Miller, who is just 23 years of age, moved to the Gold Coast from Sydney’s Northern Beaches in 2018 after making the bold decision to chase her Ironwoman dreams.

“[I moved] to pursue this Ironwoman dream of mine I have,” Miller said.

“My whole family is there [in Sydney], who I miss every day, but I know this I where I need to be,” she said.

Miller is trained by retired champion Naomi Flood at the Northcliffe Surf Lifesaving Club in Surfers Paradise.

Flood also trains former series champions Harriet Brown, Courtney Hancock and Dannielle McKenzie.

Flood is a two time Olympian, a former Nutri Grain Series Winner, an Australian Ironwoman Champion, and a six time Australian Single Ski Champion, who may be retired from competing, but is coaching the next generation to the very top. 

Originally also from Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Flood is in her fourth year at Northcliffe Surf Lifesaving Club as the head coach for the open women’s and under 19s categories for events such as the Coolangatta Gold.

Miller said Flood was a hero of hers and was also one of the main reasons why she moved to the Gold Coast.

“Floody is just an incredible coach, she goes above and beyond, for not just myself but for everyone in our squad,” Miller said.

“She’s just got the program so well done, she knows exactly what we need to do, how to do it, and when to do it,” she said.

“She pushes us to our absolute best.”

For her part, Flood is enjoying her role as head coach at Northcliffe Surf Lifesaving Club.

“I love my job, and I’m incredibly passionate about it,” Ms Flood said

“Whether you’re at the top of your sport as a role model or just there for the experience, it’s a win for everyone,” she said.

“I ride the highs and lows with the girls and it’s a very unique situation as I only train females.”

The move to the Gold Coast has certainly paid off for Miller, who is one of the most accomplished young athletes that surf lifesaving has seen, making her mark in the 2018/2019 season by becoming the second ever athlete to achieve the triple crown status.

“Last year I won the Coolangatta Gold, the Kellogs Nutri Grain series and the Australian Ironwoman title all [in] the same year,” Miller said.

She also represented Australia at the Life Saving World Championships last year, with the Australian team coming out on top.

“It was definitely my biggest year of competitions yet and [I’m] getting back into the full swing of things with the season nearly here,” she said.

“It’s really exciting.”

One of Surf Life Saving’s most challenging endurance races, the Coolangatta Gold, returns on October 12 and 13, and 2018 winner Georgia Miller is in training to defend her title.

“It’s really exciting.”

Naomi Flood

Former Olympian Naomi Flood now coaches the women’s squad at the Northcliffe Life Saving Club six days a week. Photo: Courtesy Northcliffe Life Saving Club

 

Miller is ready for the iconic Coolangatta Gold event that begins on October 12, and will be vying for the women’s long-course title.

The Coolangatta Gold began as the central theme for a film more than 30 years ago, and now commands a place on Australia’s annual sports calendar as a highly challenging endurance race.

The race offers a 41.8-kilometre long course or a 21-kilometre short course, and requires competitors to ski, swim, board and run their way to the finish line.

Last year, Miller recorded an impressive time of 4:29.22 in the long-course event, beating teammate Danielle McKenzie (4:39.08) and Noosa’s Australian champion Lana Rogers (4:41.42).

Miller said during those four and half hours, you get used to the distance and the intensity is so different to everything that you are training for, as you never know what to expect from the surf conditions on the day.

“It’s about keeping positive over that four and a half hours,” she said.

“It’s hard, damn hard, but you push through those ups and downs through the race and think ‘I’ve got to get to the end of the finish line’.”

“I break it down into section, starting with a ski paddle, and after that ski is done so is half the race,” Miller said.

“It’s a good feeling when you get off that ski, you just keep on pushing through.”

She said being an Ironwoman came down to having resilience, keeping determined and staying strong.

“A typical training day for me starts at 4:30am, where I head to swimming training, then I head to the track at Pizzey Park and do a running session,” Miller said.

“I come home and rest, and then for the afternoon it’s a big ski session, but daily training does change,” she said.

“Six days per week, it keeps me busy, that’s for sure.”

Miller said her determination came from breaking things down and ticking little things off as she went.

“I just love racing, I really love it, so I make little goals along the way that keeps me focussed and determined on what I do,” she said.

“It’s hard to look at is as a whole because it’s such a long season.”

“I love this sport, it’s always good fun, it’s different every day and obviously being out in the surf, you never get the same conditions twice; I’m always learning.”

Coach Naomi Flood said preparations for the Coolangatta Gold were coming along nicely.

“Everyone seems to be on track for this competition,” she said.

“Georgia is most definitely in a much better spot than last year.”

“She is paddling faster, skiing faster and running faster.”

Miller said last year she threw absolutely everything into this race, both mentally and psychically.

But she said this year she was taking a different approach to things.

“Last year I was incredibly drained, so I wanted to take a different approach on this year’s prep,” Miller said.

“Everything is going well; training is good and everything seems to be aligning,” she said.

“It’s so much easier training here on the Gold Coast in the warming weather.”

Miller, who is passionate about surf lifesaving, also trains Nippers, to inspire them to chase their dreams and passions just like she has.

“Someone told me when I was younger to have fun when you race,” Miller said.

“Don’t take it too seriously, anything can happen in the surf and this sport teaches you something new every day,” she said.

“Learning to have resilience is something that I’ve taken from it and I still am taking from it,” she said.

“You learn something new every day, which is really cool, and you can’t really do that with any other sport.”

For more information about the Coolangatta Gold, visit sls.com.au/coolangattagold

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