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Taylor wins his fourth ironman

New Zealand surf lifesaving stars Cory Taylor and Danielle McKenzie capped incredible national championship campaigns in Mount Maunganui yesterday, emphasising why they’re among the best surf athletes on the planet.

Taylor, of Gisborne’s Midway club, yesterday won his fourth New Zealand ironman title, to go with his run-swim-run gold on Saturday and the tube rescue/board rescue double he and Matt Scott achieved on Friday.

It meant Taylor finished the TSB-sponsored championships with four gold medals in total.

Taylor put in a dominant performance in the ironman yesterday. He cleared out in the ski leg and eased home comfortably in the swim.

“I was pretty nervous going in because it was such a short course, with a long run, and the waves were standing up almost as far out as the cans,” Taylor said.

“I just wanted to get out on my own and find some clear space, and I thought the ski leg was the best place to do that.”

Yesterday wasn’t perfect for Taylor, though. He was leading the board race — still the only individual open men’s race he hasn’t won — when the pack caught up and Papamoa’s Scott Cowdrey outsprinted Mount Maunganui’s Lincoln Waide for his first open title. Taylor finished fourth.

McKenzie dominated the open women’s division.

The 24-year-old Mairangi Bay clubbie finished with nine gold medals — one more than she earned with her historic performance last year — and became the first athlete in the 104-year history of the titles to win every individual open event on offer.

She convincingly won the ironwoman, out-sprinted former Midway club member Devon Halligan (now of Omanu) to win the board race, took the ski race by 50 metres and won both the run-swim-run and surf race. She added team golds in the double ski, mixed double ski, ski relay and the event-ending women’s taplin.

McKenzie toyed with the idea of remaining in Australia, where she and Taylor compete on the professional series, but said she was glad she came back for the nationals. It was special to race in front of her family and club members.

“They’re the ones who’ve always been there for me,” she said.

She has now won 32 open women’s titles since she won her first as a precocious 17-year-old in the 2012 taplin.

Her performances even left Black Fins teammate Taylor shaking his head.

“She’s been unstoppable,” he said.

“Her performances last weekend at the Queensland titles were unbelievable and she came here really well prepared and in good shape, and it showed.”

On Saturday, Gisborne’s Casie Fyall eased her way to her second open women’s beach flags title, sealing yet another sand-based gold for the Waikanae club.

On Friday, she had combined with Briana Irving, Jamie Gedye and Madeleine Wilson to win the open women’s beach relay.

The victory was part of a one-day, six-gold haul for Irving, who won the u16, u19 and open women’s beach sprints and was in all three winning beach-sprint relay teams on Friday.

On Saturday, Irving won the u16 women’s beach flags and was second in the u19 final.

Waikanae finished third in the overall points race, on 90.

Mount Maunganui’s overall dominance propelled them to their seventh consecutive Allan Gardner Trophy. They had 147 points. Mairangi Bay were second, on 97.

Midway were seventh, on 50 points (the same number as sixth-placed East End), and Wainui were 19th, on 11.

This was Mount Maunganui’s 10th title, which put them out in front for the number of titles won. They had previously been level with the Bay of Plenty club and Christchurch’s South Brighton.

CAPTAIN CORY: Midway’s Gold Coast-based surf lifesaving star Cory Taylor will captain the New Zealand Black Fins at the International Surf Rescue Championships in Durban, South Africa, next month. Taylor will be joined by clubmate Olivia Corrin in the open team, with five Gisborne athletes in the Junior Black Fins. File picture