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It was a picturesque weekend at Coolum Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast to kick off the 2019 Nutri-Grain Iron Series qualifying rounds. Over 100 of Australia’s top athletes lined up hoping to achieve their dream of competing in the elite series. Only six males and six females would qualify.​

The heats consisted of three Iron races over a combination of standard and M shape courses. Each of the three heats were random draws and discipline order – a combination of a surf swim, board paddle, ski leg and run.

Surf Life Saving NSW Director of Surf Sports Don van Keimpema said NSW athletes continue to push up and test the Queenslanders. “We’re so proud of Britney Pierce, Jackson Borg and Dan Collins on their qualification today. They’ve all come up through our Nippers programs and have been excellent role models and competitors on their way up,” said Donnie. “These qualifying events are where some of our young athletes’ dreams are made and broken. Any one of these athletes could be the next Ironman or Ironwoman champion.

“They are all so skilled and it was great to see such a strong contingent not only make their way up to Queensland this weekend, but also to make it through to the finals,” said Donnie. “With the determination and talent of these athletes now, and what we’ve seen flourish over the last season, it won’t be long before we see NSW clubs really put it to our northern counterparts.”

In the Ironwoman qualifier, Britney Pierce (Wanda SLSC) was the only NSW athlete to secure a place in the 2019 series to join the top 12 seeded Ironwomen and two wildcard entries.

Britney finished an impressive second place in the finals behind Olivia Corrin (Northcliffe, QLD). All remaining five qualifiers to join Britney are from Queensland. She will enter the series with 2019 NSW Youth Athlete of the Year Naomi Scott (Manly), Lizzie Welborn (Newport) and 2019 NSW Open Ironwoman Champion Jemma Smith (Umina).

Britney Pierce
Britney Pierce (Wanda SLSC), Photo by Harvpix

Britney has been in Wanda SLSC since Under 6s, “It’s the only club I’ve ever been with and I just feel really proud to be able to represent them. The last person to represent Wanda was Olympic swimmer Stacey Gartrell in the ‘90s. It makes this result even sweeter,” she said.

“The last season and a half I’ve been ambitious to get the results and qualify for this event. I want to be competing against the best Ironwomen in Australia.

“I went into the last race with four points and all I needed was a solid last race. It was so unbelievable to get the result,” said Britney

The Ironman event was equally as gruelling but it was a special day for Redhead’s Dan Collins, making an incredible comeback after winning the 2018 NSW Open Ironman title. Dan was the top qualifier ahead of 2019 NSW Athlete of the Year Jackson Borg (Newport SLSC). The gun athletes were the only two New South Welshmen to qualify but will join veteran Kendrick Louis (Manly LSC), Jay Furniss (Manly LSC) and Max Brooks (Newport SLSC) and two wildcards.

daniel collins
Daniel Collins (Redhead SLSC), photo by Stephen Chu

Jackson won the second race of the day and said despite the tough, flat conditions it was great to have Dan (Collins) neck-and-neck with him. “It was pretty awesome to have Dan there with me up top; we really worked together to keep each other up front.”

Dan echoed the benefit of racing with his Newport mate, “Jacko and I were matched up a few times over the course of the weekend and it really helped both of us. We kept each other up the top of the pack, round the cans and through the course.”

Both Dan and Jackson have tasted Ironman glory as consecutive NSW Open Champions.

But for both young athletes, qualifying for this five-round premier series is something they’ve dreamed of since they were kids.

Jackson said since he was 12 when he first imagined himself on the start line with the pros and Dan said, “as a Nipper, it’s what you wake up for on a Sunday morning. You work so hard and have a lot of fun but it’s seeing the best of the best pushing the limits, and getting your face on TV as a kid that drives you to get here.” 

Both Jackson and Dan have competed in the Ocean6 Series over the last five years and say it was a great transition and preparation for the Nutri-Grain Ironman Series.

For Dan, he’d like to finish in the top 10 with a podium finish at one of the rounds. “I’ve got no expectations of myself, I’m really stoked to have qualified and hopefully I can carry my form from this weekend through the season now. The best results of the series will be those guys who are consistent in all conditions. I can’t wait to put my foot on that start line.”

Jackson is aiming for top six. “I’ll put everything I’ve got into this series and it’s the result of everything I’ve worked for up to this point. Finishing in the top six or eight is ambitious I know, but I think I have the training and the drive to achieve it,” he said.

jackson borg by harvpix
Jackson Borg (Newport SLSC), Photo by Harvpix

The 2019 Nutri-Grain Iron series will be a state-of-origin event between Queensland and New South Wales with the sunshine state continuing to dominate the lineup.

This year’s series has $100,000 worth of prize money up for grabs.

The first round is the Coolangatta Gold on 13 October. The iconic event will set the bar for the athletes going into the series.

2019/20 Nutri-Grain Ironman & Ironwoman Series 

  • Round 1, 13 October 2019  - Coolangatta Gold, QLD

  • Round 2, 17 November 2019 – Endurosurf, Burleigh Heads, QLD

  • Round 3, 1 December 2019 – Super Spring, Bulli NSW

  • Round 4, 15 December 2019 – The Specialist, Surfers Paradise QLD

  • Round 5, 19 January 2020 – Survival, North Cronulla NSW

For more information visit