The Australian lifesaving team has retrieved five medals in the pool events at Rescue 2014, but must dominate the beach to be crowned world champions.
Australia’s top surf lifesavers have claimed a handful of medals in the pool events at the world titles, but will need to dig deep on French sands to beat current leaders New Zealand.
Chasing a first world championship in six years, the Australian team sits fourth with one gold, one silver and three bronze medals (336 points) after day two of the five-day Rescue 2014 in Montpellier in southern France.
NSW duo Tim Schofield (Terrigal Surf Life Saving Club) and Andrew Bowden (Bronte SLSC) took out gold in the line throw, where pairs throw a rope roughly 12m and haul in their partner.
Christina Ruiz and Pamela Hendry, both from Northcliffe SLSC in Queensland, won bronze in the women’s event.
Fellow Queenslanders Shannon Eckstein (Northcliffe SLSC), the team’s skipper, and Ryan Napoleon (Currumbin SLSC) teamed with Schofield and Bowden in the 4x25m manikin relay to retrieve silver.
Napoleon also showed his strength and agility in the pool, winning the bronze in the 200m obstacle swim.
“The boys’ performance was amazing – the first time we have ever won the line throw,” said Australian head coach Danny Short.
“Full marks to Tim Schofield and Andrew Bowden – they had the crowd on their feet.
“And in the girls event, Christina Ruiz nailed her throw first up and the girls came home third for valuable points.”
With three days of mostly beach events remaining, Short believes the medals in the pool give the team a chance to run down the reigning champion Kiwi outfit.
The Australian team, currently trailing New Zealand (424), France (422) and Italy (381), hopes for a comeback similar to their last victory in Germany in 2008.
That year the team saved their best for the beach events to snatch the title from New Zealand by 110 points.
“It’s going to be tough but not impossible,” Short said.
“They are itching to get to the beach.”