Scarborough: Perth teens relishing home advantage for Australian Surf Life Saving Championships

Maddy Thomson (17-Trigg Surf Life Saving Club) and Tom Gallagher (19-City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club).
Maddy Thomson (17-Trigg Surf Life Saving Club) and Tom Gallagher (19-City of Perth Surf Life Saving Club).

TOM Gallagher and Maddy Thomson are looking to make a big splash at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, which begin at Scarborough Beach this weekend.

The duo is two of WA’s top talents and are hopeful that the home conditions will work in their favour for the nine-day event, which is colloquially known as “The Aussies”.

“I know Scarborough Beach very well and what it’s like in different conditions so this might play in hand for me, but everyone else on the east coast train for all conditions and are very good at their bank running and surf skills,” Thomson said.

The Trigg Island Surf Lifesaving Club teenager will compete in under-17 events including the 2km beach run, surf belt race and surf teams race.

Gallagher (19) also believes that Scarborough will give him an advantage as he takes to the sand and surf in four events – surf race, board race, ironman and board rescue.

“Conditions are generally flat, so racing is a lot more fitness based which suits me a fair bit,” he said.

He said the weather can be quite unpredictable but from experience, he is expecting Perth’s wind to be a factor.

The City of Perth Surf Life Saving representative dubbed The Aussies as “the pinnacle of the sport” and is confident ahead of his final appearance in underage groups, having competed at the championships for the past five years.

“Nerves are expected but they are a good thing as it shows that you care about what you’re doing,” he said.

“I have put a lot of work in during the season and don’t feel like I have too much pressure on me, so I’m just going to give it a crack.”

The Aussies is an annual event where lifesavers from Australia’s 311 surf clubs compete in more than 400 beach and ocean events.

It has become a major event on the Australian sporting landscape since the first edition was held at Bondi Beach in March 1915.

This will be Thomson’s fourth championships, having competed since she was just 13 years old.

A highlight came in 2016 when she won the under-14 girls rescue tube race, but she is vey much looking forward to this year’s instalment.

“Being able to race against the best of the best in Australia on home soil is amazing,” she said.

“To have my family, friends, coaches and other supporters come down and cheer me on throughout the event is truly amazing to be able to have that extra support.”

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