The Sunday Mail (Queensland)
Pluimers’ will to win grows
@dstanno LIZ Pluimers’ ironwoman title defence hangs on her ability to juggle an overwhelming battery of commitments and deliver away from home.
The winner of this summer’s Nutri-Grain Ironman and Ironwoman Series will be crowned at Cronulla, the second of two NSW legs on the professional surf lifesaving circuit.
That leaves Pluimers with at least another obstacle in her path when she renews her rivalry with Courtney Hancock in the season opener at Coolum on November 28.
The North Burleigh champion’s early upbringing on the Darling Downs and in southwest Queensland has taught her to embrace hard work.
Those values serve her well as the Bachelor of Commerce student manages planning for next month’s wedding, training, competing and a day job with accountancy firm Baker Affleck Moffrey.
“I’m definitely busy but I like everything in moderation,” she said. “Sometimes I wish I was a fulltime professional athlete but when one thing doesn’t go well it’s nice to have something else to focus on.’’
Pluimers must be regarded among her sport’s greats after joining Karla Gilbert, Kristy Harris and Hancock as threetime winners of the Nutri-Grain series in January.
The 28-year-old also owns two Coolangatta Gold crowns and a pair of Australian ironwoman national titles.
With every trophy earned, Pluimers teases she might be closer to retirement and this season she is again wrapping mystery around her intentions.
“I’m pretty sure this one will be my last, but if I do well you never know,” she said.
Pluimers must attack her title defence without the safety net of a home round after the Gold Coast was overlooked in the 2015-16 season schedule.
The professional series will again comprise six rounds, starting at the Sunshine Coast, Rounds 3 and 4 at Newcastle, on December 19 and 20, and the finale at Cronulla on January 16 and 17.
Zane Holmes said it was important to take the series to a variety of locations to showcase the sport to local communities.
“These are some of the fittest athletes on the planet – all possessing incredible surf skills,’’ Holmes said.
“These venues give us the opportunity to witness intense racing in demanding surf conditions at spectator-friendly locations.’’
Ali Day, who broke through for his first Nutri-Grain crown last season, is one of several high-profile club switches during the off-season.
Day has linked with Surfers Paradise, with his former Mooloolaba clubmate Matt Poole moving to Currumbin.
Former Mooloolaba clubbies Amy and Karlee Nurthern also have switched to Currumbin.
There has been no change in the allegiance of ironman great Shannon Eckstein from Northcliffe.
His mission is to win back his crown from Day.