Alex Ironwoman Kristy Ellis given AM for Australia Day
WHEN a young Kristy Ellis took her first tentative steps into lifesaving, she could never have imagined the honours that lay ahead.
More than 25 years later, she is one of the most decorated lifesavers in the nation and has been named a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her services to the movement in today's Australia Day Honours List.
During an outstanding career, the then Kristy Munroe won a swag of titles in the sport.
As a teenager, she claimed five consecutive junior Coolangatta Gold victories and became the youngest person to compete in the coveted Kellogg's Series at just 15 years of age.
She won the Australian Ironwoman crown in 2002 while still at under-19 level and was crowned the Sunshine Coast Sports Star of the Year for her efforts.
Mrs Ellis emerged as a three-time World Ironwoman champion and was inducted into the Surf Life Saving Australia Hall of Fame and International Lifesaving Federation Hall of Fame.
She was also the youngest person to be welcomed into the Sunshine Coast Hall of Fame.
Today, Mrs Ellis and her husband Luke have two young children - Eddy, almost three, and Pippa who will turn one next month.
Despite being busy with family and a career as a marriage celebrant, she remains committed to the sport of lifesaving.
She is a life member of Alexandra Headland Surf Life Saving Club - the only club she has been with since she first joined nippers as a six-year-old.
"I've been with the one club my entire career, which is a bit unusual these days," Mrs Ellis said.
"While I was competing, I was approached by lots of different clubs, but I am so glad I was never tempted to waver from Alex.
"It's really close to my heart."
She said she was "really overwhelmed" by the Australia Day honour.
"It's quite hard to comprehend.
"To be nominated is an honour but to be recognised is phenomenal.
"Awards are not something you aspire to when you're competing. You're so focused on the next event coming up or the next thing you are hoping to achieve.
"The accolades that have come my way since I retired are the sort of things you don't even think about."
An Australia Day Ambassador since 2008, Mrs Ellis will visit a number of Sunshine Coast events today.
She said she believed Australians were the luckiest people in the world.
"I feel that every time I come back from travelling overseas.
"Now I have a young family, I appreciate the opportunities we have and the lifestyle we enjoy."