Age­less Kelly eye­ing 10th ti­tle

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Age is no bar­rier for Be­van Kelly.

The world cham­pion bare­foot wa­ter­skier from Pau­ata­hanui has the na­tional champs later this month on his mind.

At 41, he said the bumps and scrapes took longer to re­cover from, but haven’t di­min­ished his thirst to win.

‘‘My de­sire is still there. It’s the sort of per­son I am,’’ he said.

His class on the wa­ter shows no signs of ta­per­ing off. At re­cent re­gional com­pe­ti­tions in Waikato, Welling­ton and Bay of Plenty, Kelly won two and was sec­ond in the other.

In the Bay of Plenty event, his jump and slalom sec­tions went fine, but he was let down by his tricks.

‘‘It wasn’t one of my best days, but it was a good wake-up call go­ing into na­tion­als.’’

He did, how­ever, break an Aus­tralasian jump record by a me­tre when he flew 25.6m.

Kelly said it was nice to earn the record back af­ter his pre­vi­ous mark was bro­ken by an Aus­tralian ri­val a year ago.

Along with com­pet­ing, Kelly spends time coach­ing the next breed of bare­foot skiers, which in­clude his 10- year- old twins. They were show­ing some fine skills on the wa­ter, he said.

His love for the sport hasn’t dimmed, even af­ter 30 years of par­tic­i­pat­ing at all lev­els.

‘‘I spend a lot of time with kids and that’s what I love – it gives me a huge kick see­ing them im­prov­ing.

‘‘I never pushed my kids into the sport, but it’s what they’ve grown up with.

‘‘It’s hard to ex­plain what the feel­ing is like un­til you stand up on the wa­ter and skim across the top. It’s amaz­ing.’’

Train­ing – which he does mostly in Wairarapa – and com­pe­ti­tion lasts from Oc­to­ber un­til May, when the cold weather keeps most skiers off the lakes.

Wet­suits kept you warm, but there was no pro­tec­tion for your feet in the icy wa­ter, he said.

Kelly was rapt to re­ceive the sports­man’s award at last year’s Porirua Sports evening.

‘‘I’ve lived in Porirua all my life and I was re­ally chuffed to have that recog­ni­tion for the sport.’’

There are no world champs this year, but the 2016 world event, to be con­firmed in ei­ther the United States or Australia, is not far from his thoughts. Kelly will be af­ter his third world ti­tle.

In the na­tion­als, at Lake In­spi­ra­tion in Otaki from March 26 till 28, Kelly will be gun­ning for his 10th na­tional ti­tle since 1996.

He ex­pected about 35 skiers in the dif­fer­ent age groups.

Photo: FAIR­FAX

Ded­i­cated: Bare­foot wa­ter­skier Be­van Kelly.

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