Mas­ter­ing the beach

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - By MON­TANA ARDON

GOLD and sil­ver hang proudly in the Belle-wood and Maffescioni house­holds fol­low­ing the WA Surf Life­sav­ing Cham­pi­onships that wrapped up on the week­end. Sonja Belle-wood re­turned to com­pe­ti­tion in the Mas­ters cat­e­gory, win­ning a gold medal in the women’s 35-and-over beach re­lay. The 42-year-old took a break from com­pe­ti­tion in 2007 when she gave birth to daugh­ter El­iza Wood, who made her de­but in the Ju­niors, fin­ish­ing fourth in the beach sprint and beach flag events. The fam­ily’s for­mer nanny Te­gan Maffescioni added gold and sil­ver to the mix de­fend­ing her beach sprint ti­tle in the Open cat­e­gory, win­ning the women’s sprint for the sec­ond year and tak­ing sil­ver in the beach flags event. They are mem­bers at North Cottes­loe Surf Life Sav­ing Club.

THERE must be some­thing in the wa­ter – or the sand – at North Cottes­loe Surf Life Sav­ing Club.

The club’s beach com­peti­tors have cel­e­brated a stel­lar few weeks of state cham­pi­onships ac­tion on the sand, bring­ing home mul­ti­ple medals in the beach sprint, beach re­lay and flags events.

Te­gan Maffescioni de­fended her beach sprint ti­tle last week­end at the Open cham­pi­onships, tak­ing the gold in the women’s sprint.

The 28-year-old teacher backed up her win with a sil­ver medal in the beach flags event the next day.

“All I wanted as a nip­per was to win one open sprint ti­tle,” she said.

“To go back to back, I'm over the moon.”

Maffescioni has been at North Cottes­loe for more than 20 years and has won re­lay medals at na­tional and world lev­els.

For­mer coach and team­mate Sonja Belle-wood also had a suc­cess­ful state cham­pi­onships cam­paign, re­turn­ing to the beach for the first time in the Mas­ters cat­e­gory.

The 42-year-old com­bined with for­mer team­mates to win a gold medal in the women’s 35-and-over beach re­lay last month.

“Teegs was the baby of the squad when I ran in the open divi­sion,” Belle­wood said.

“I men­tored her as an un­der-17 and un­der-19 ath­lete and then into the Open divi­sion where we com­bined in 2006 to win sil­ver in the beach re­lay at the World Cham­pi­onships, and then in 2009 to win bronze at the Aus­tralian Cham­pi­onships in the beach re­lay.”

In 2007, Belle-wood took a break for the birth of daugh­ter El­iza Wood, who made her de­but at the ju­nior state cham­pi­onships on the week­end.

El­iza (9) fin­ished fourth in the beach sprint and beach flag events, nar­rowly miss­ing out on medals in both events.

“This is El­iza’s first year of sur­flife­sav­ing, and coin­ci­den­tally, her first year of be­ing able to com­pete,” Belle­wood said.

“Teegs be­came my nanny af­ter I had El­iza, and is now coach­ing her, along­side other ju­nior ath­letes in the beach arena.

“It is like three gen­er­a­tions of sur­flife­sav­ing.”

Belle-wood said that while her pri­or­i­ties may have changed a lit­tle, she was aim­ing to com­pete at the Aus­tralian Cham­pi­onships next year, when it re­turns to Scar­bor­ough Beach for the first time since 2009.

“Now the main ob­jec­tive is to have fun, stay in­jury-free, find a babysit­ter and help pass our skills to the younger ath­letes in our sport,” she said.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d466120

Te­gan Maffescioni (left), with El­iza Wood (9) and Sonja Belle-wood.

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