Jordan Mercer returns victorious from Japan.
Jordan Mercer returns victorious from Japan.

Teenager targets ironwoman crown

NOOSA Heads teen sensation Jordan Mercer, dripping gold after a dream year, aims to become the world's best ironwoman by winning this season's Nutri-Grain national series.

The 18-year-old arrived home last Wednesday after captaining the Australian under-21 team to glory at the International Lifesaving Cup in Japan.

Mercer's success in Japan has further emboldened her, and follows a host of outstanding results this year.

She won three gold medals at the ISA World Stand-up Paddle and Paddleboard Championships in Peru, defended her Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championship crown, and collected two under-19 gold medals at the Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships.

Combine those results with a fourth-place finish in the 2011-12 Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series, including a second placing at the Perth round, and you have an athlete who appears destined for greatest.

"I'm going in to win it (the Ironwoman Series) this year," Mercer said.

"I set my goals very high but I also put in the hard yards to make sure that happens."

She certainly does.

After a 10-hour flight from Japan, Mercer headed straight to the Noosa Heads Surf Club for a training session with her coach and father, ironman legend Darren Mercer.

This year's series commences in Perth in December.

The race formats for the six-round series are yet to be confirmed on the series' official website but Mercer said the Perth round will switch from an endurance event to the eliminator format.

"I was looking forward to having the same conditions and course, but they've changed it around," she said.

"I think they've chosen certain formats for different beaches and they will be a bit better and accessible to crowds."

Mercer's next major assignment is the World Surf Lifesaving Championships in Adelaide in October.

She will compete in the under-20 section of what will be her first world titles.

Along with Australia's team dominance against open competitors in Japan, Mercer won the individual ironwoman and board races.

She described competing in the annual event as a "priceless" and "truly humbling" experience.

Mercer said when the Australian team members arrived in Japan they discovered other countries had sent open-age competitors to the event, which was cancelled last year due to the Japanese tsunami.

Despite that, Australia's women won every event and our men were beaten in only two.

"I think there was a little bit of a handicap but we still managed to come through," Mercer said.

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