Surrounded today by greats of the Australian surf, Perth’s Gabrielle Murphy looked every bit ready to go for gold when the open section of the national Surf Life Saving Championships start at Scarborough tomorrow.
The rising beach sprint and flags star said she was in awe, but far from overawed as she took centre stage at an event launch alongside ironmen Shannon Eckstein and Kendrick Louis, ironwoman Courtney Hancock, Olympic kayaker and four-time single ski champion Naomi Flood and surf sports legend Trevor Hendy.
Murphy, 20, said she met Flood, Louis and Eckstein at a competition in Japan and had been inspired to try and carve out an imposing beach record of her own.
“Even though they’re water competitors and I’m a beachy, it’s still amazing to see what they’ve done,” Murphy said.
“Surf is such a great sport because everyone is so nice and really inclusive. But to have this event back here is so exciting because we’ll have so much support from friends and family and even people you don’t know will see you’re from WA and congratulate you.
“It’s the best feeling ever, just the roar of the crowd and everyone so close.”
Murphy, who will travel to France for the world titles in September, said she had prepared carefully for the event with key strategies such as a team pasta dinner last Friday night and a bonding “sleepover” with her relay teammates.
She said sacrificing social elements of her young life were worth it for the vast rewards of her healthy lifestyle.
“My life would be so different without it,” she said.
“You can’t go out drinking and you have to have early nights. It’s a choice you make, but I’m 100 per cent glad I have and it’s a hundred times more important than just having a good night on the weekend.”
Hendy, a six-time Australian ironman champion, described “The Aussies” as an event which genuinely bonded people.
“Surf life saving is certainly about patrols and about competition as well,” Hendy said.
“But it’s a really feeling based sport, we’re all here because we love to be here. We love to do patrols together and we love to go and race together and travel around.
“In life these days, there are not a lot of things that bring people together. You know, life itself tears people apart with work and everything else.
“So it’s amazing to have an organisation where every single place you look at it, it’s all about people coming together, having a great time and trying to be the best they can.”
It is the 11th time “The Aussies” have been held in WA since the event was first held at Scarborough in 1951 and there are more than 5000 competitors.
Five WA clubs feature in the top ten Masters point tally which will be finalised tomorrow morning.