Surf Life Saving Australia cops barrage from top coach
ESTEEMED ironman coach Michael King says the scheduling of the Coolangatta Gold has diminished the iconic event's prominence in the sport.
Regarded as one of the leading surf lifesaving fixtures in the world, the Gold has taken a significant blow this year with several leading ironmen and ironwomen, including 2013 winner Ali Day, snubbing the event.
King, a winner of the Gold, said his main gripe was the competition's timing of November 1-2, just four weeks shy of the start of the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series.
He said Surf Life Saving Australia could have sought more advice from the sport's major players.
"The communication lines from Surf Life Saving Australia are never open," he said.
"Surf Life Saving Australia are just making decisions on what they see fit without consulting people who do the race or have done the race, or the coaches.
"It has taken away from the spectacle of the sport because you want your Ali Days, your Caine Ecksteins and the elite guys doing this and promoting the sport around this race.
"I think our priorities have got to lie with what we have ahead and the Gold isn't a priority for our group this year."
King's squad is considered one of the strongest in the country, its ranks including stars such as Day, Josh Minogue, Matt Poole, Luke Cuff, Matt Bevilacqua and Amy Nurthen.
KING said had the event been held at its usual time of October, his athletes would have likely competed.
"They (SLSA) have moved the Gold (to November) because they thought they would let the people go to the World Championships (in France from September 25-27) ," he said. "But if you are training for worlds you haven't done the base work to be ready for the Coolangatta Gold (anyway). I just liked it the way it was and what it meant and what it stood for."
Surf Life Saving Australia sports manager Nathan Hight said his organisation had considered the logistics of the events and tried its best to schedule a time for the Gold that suited most athletes.
"The challenge we have is the timing of the lifesaving world champs, which are a short-course traditional race," he said.
"But the other side of things is that the Gold is an endurance-based event for our members."
Hight admitted he was concerned some of the sports leading athletes would not be contesting the event this year.
"There is significant prize money and that is there to entice the best athletes," he said.