Gold on hold? Doubts linger over iconic endurance race

 

SURF Life Saving Australia has officially cancelled all non-elite categories of the iconic Coolangatta Gold but fears remain the elite race could soon join the growing list of COVID-19 sporting casualties.

Rumours have been rife in recent weeks that the iconic 41.8km endurance race from Coolangatta beach to Broadbeach, scheduled for October 25, could be cancelled due to the Queensland Government's new COVID-19 border restrictions.

On Friday, Surf Life Saving Australia confirmed they had decided to cancel all non-elite categories of the Coolangatta Gold, including Beach Warrior.

Despite cancelling aspects of the Coolangatta Gold, Surf Life Saving Australia is continuing to work with relevant authorities to run the elite athlete category as scheduled on Sunday October 25.

 

Matt Bevilacqua celebrates winning the 2019 Coolangatta Gold on October 13, 2019 in Coolangatta, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Matt Bevilacqua celebrates winning the 2019 Coolangatta Gold on October 13, 2019 in Coolangatta, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

An email obtained by News Corp from Surf Life Saving Australia Sport and Participation Pathways manager Bradley Dean asked athletes to indicate their interest to compete in the 2020 Coolangatta Gold should it go ahead as planned.

"There has been much discussion over the viability to run the Coolangatta Gold for this year," the email, sent on August 7, read.

"There has been no formal decision made regarding the cancellation of the Coolangatta Gold and there are currently a number of scenarios being explored to get this event run in a safe and competitive environment for all competitors."

SLSA President Graham Ford AM said his team had been working on a number of scenarios to allow the Coolangatta Gold to run as planned but they proved not viable.

"We know that people have been preparing and training for these events and we have been wanting to give everyone the opportunity to participate, particularly given that last season was cut short, but we have reached a point where all things considered, we needed to make the call," he said.

"At this point in time we will continue to push ahead and work with relevant authorities and stakeholders to run the elite category of the Coolangatta Gold, but recognise that there may come a point in time, when a final decision on this category will come, but that time isn't now.

"Our team is planning and actively managing this ever-changing situation on a daily basis and if we reach the point where we feel all avenues have been explored, or the circumstances dictate that it is not possible, we will make that decision and communicate accordingly."

Northcliffe director of surf sports Mark Williams said athletes would continue to train as if the race was going ahead but hoped a final decision would be reached soon.

"We have athletes training for the Coolangatta Gold and nothing changes in that respect as most athletes achieve a solid fitness base through Gold training," he said.

"It's difficult for athletes to remain driven without an end goal in sight and mind."

The 2020 National Pool Rescue Championships, scheduled to be held at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre on October 2-4, have also been cancelled.