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They may now call Queensland home, but Nutri-Grain Iron Stars Matt Poole and Kirsty Higginson were top billing at the Age Championships on Saturday as they signed autographs, posed for photos, and talked about their experience in sport to a throng of young champions.

The duo visited Blacksmiths Beach in their position as Engine athletes and were happy to reflect on that time not so long ago when they too were competing at the New South Wales Titles.

Higginson began her journey to the elite level at Nowra-Culburra and has fond memories of often being one of only a handful of club competitors, while Poole was a member of Queenscliff.

In fact, Poole was returning to the beach where he has plenty of fond memories “In the U14s I was able to win the Ironman in a sprint finish, and I won the board as well. Through Nippers I wasn’t much of a swimmer.”

Both athletes enjoyed the chance to engage with the young Nippers.

“It’s really wonderful to be able to come back and give back to the kids. I was at the clinic earlier in the week and I really wanted to pass on some of the lessons we learned when we were younger,” said Kirsty Higginson.

Poole himself enjoyed a breakout season after he claimed his maiden Ironman title at Cronulla last month.

“It’s amazing to get that first title and it was certainly a really tough few days of racing, so to get that win was special. In the three-day format you need to be on your game every race,” he said.

“I think as athletes we would love to race more. Everybody on the circuit is on board with that. The sport is too good, it’s doing too well on Fox, and we have some amazing athletes and we need to showcase it.”

Both Higginson and Poole are continuing their training as they build towards State and Aussies, but not before they had one piece of advice for the aspiring champions of tomorrow.

“I think the most important thing is to tell them to have fun and it doesn’t matter where you finish. Neither of us were winning everything as Nippers and got better as we got older so you’ve got to dream big and continue to work really hard,” Higginson said.


Saturday 4 March 2017