Falzons comeback proves worthwhile
CANDICE Falzon's comeback to the elite ironwoman ranks was capped by a breakthrough victory at Coolum Beach yesterday.
The 26-year-old Manly competitor, who returned to the series this summer after a three-year absence from the upper echelons of the sport, defeated Bonnie Hancock by 28 seconds with new series leader Kristyl Smith claiming third place, another seven seconds behind.
It was a maiden podium finish for Falzon, who entered the ironwoman scene as a talented 16-year-old.
"It's unbelievable," she said. "Ever since I was eight-years-old I have dreamed of winning one of these races.
"I trained bloody hard for this and I think I deserve this just as much as anyone deserves to win a race."
Falzon's social life has been well documented in the past but her will to win an Ironwoman event has never waned.
"I had a few years off and everyone knows I've been through some bad times but I never stopped believing and I never stopped dreaming and I knew one day this would happen," she said.
"I think that's something for everyone to realise that if you really believe in something and you put the hard work into something then you're going to achieve that."
After finishing eighth in the ski race, second in the swim race and 17th in the board race, Falzon was the sixth competitor to start in the handicap-start final, which included all disciplines.
She gave away a 26-second advantage to top qualifier Liz Pluimers but produced a standout swim in the second leg to forge to the front. She never looked back.
"I knew if I could put a really good swim leg together in that ironwoman race I would put myself into a really good position going into that last leg which was the board," she said.
Falzon is now fifth in the summer standings.
Smith leads the series after five of six rounds but the Northcliffe 28-year-old holds just a one-point advantage over Pluimers, who slipped back a spot on the overall standings after finishing sixth yesterday. Defending champion Courtney Hancock is another six points adrift.
Jordan Mercer is fourth overall after another strong showing.
The Noosa Head teenager claimed a breakthrough podium position in Perth a fortnight ago before finishing fourth at Coolum Beach.
Fellow Sunshine Coast ironwomen Rebecca Creedy and Allira Richardson snared top 10 finishes but Danielle Allen's replacement Aimee Berridge experienced a tough initiation to her first ironwoman event.
K Smith 95, L Pluimers 94, C Hancock 88, J Mercer 70, C Falzon 69, B Moir 67, H Brown 62, KA Perkins 55, R Creedy 54, D Allen 54. , B Hancock 52, K Holmes 52, A Richardson 50, A Bennett 42, H Bateup 39, T Coleman 36, A Nurthern 32, T Devine 31, N Chapman 29, T Jenkins 28, A Berridge 1.
IRONWOMAN ROUND 5
C Falzon 1, B Hancock 2, K Smith 3, J Mercer 4, C Hancock 5, L Pluimers 6, R Creedy 7, A Richardson 8, A Nurthern 9, A Bennett 10.