Caine Eckstein muscles his way towards a third victory in the Coolangatta Gold ironman event.
Caine Eckstein muscles his way towards a third victory in the Coolangatta Gold ironman event. Harvie Allison

Eckstein eyes Olympics

CAINE Eckstein is considering a switch to triathlon and has the London Olympics in his sights after a third Coolangatta Gold win at Surfers Paradise.

Eckstein made it three Gold classic wins since 2005 yesterday when he streeted his opposition over the demanding 46.6km endurance test for ironmen.

And he did it in style, shattering the race record by more than 10 minutes after breaking clear of his main rival and Northcliffe clubmate Dean Mercer over the final few legs.

The old mark stood at 4hr 10min 58sec, but Eckstein obliterated it in perfect conditions with no swell and with the wind at his back all the way back to Surfers Paradise from Coolangatta.

He stopped the clock at 4:00.48, well clear of the veteran Mercer who, at 39, covered himself in glory with a runner-up finish in 4:05.02.

Mercer's time was also well inside the old record held, ironically, by younger brother Darren and established in 1992.

Coming in third was champion NSW ironman Nathan Smith (4:08.32).

With an aura of invincibility about him in the marathon ironman challenge, Eckstein has begun looking at triathlon.

Speaking about the chances of him defending the Coolangatta Gold crown again in 2010, Eckstein said he may have a look at the swim-bike-run discipline, especially after improvements in his running.

“I've really enjoyed the running (in ironman), so maybe I'll try Olympic-distance triathlon,” he said.

“I really enjoy that and I'd love to try to run faster and see how I go.

“I think that (triathlon) is such a great sport, the one I like to watch.”

So will the 2012 London Olympic Games be a possible target?

“Definitely,” he said. “If I do it I'd definitely like to go to the top pretty much.”

Veteran Mercer was gallant in defeat and later described his as the perfect race, despite coming in second.

He said he put it to Eckstein in the 26km opening ski leg to Coolangatta but, when the third swim leg produced an advantage to Eckstein, the race was as good as over.

“I couldn't complain, I got beaten by a superior athlete today,” Mercer said.

Records also tumbled in the women's race when adopted Queenslander Alicia Marriott broke the race record for her second Gold win in three years.

Marriott stopped the clock at 3:15.39, 26 seconds ahead of defending champion Hayley Bateup of the Gold Coast who grabbed the runner-up medal after Liz Pluimers collapsed in the finishing chute just 15 metres from the line. Pluimers was treated at the hospital tent before being released.

Unlike Eckstein, Marriott has every intention of defending her title again next year as she seeks to emulate Bateup's three classic wins.

“I've done it three times now and I've beaten Hayley twice,” Marriott said.

Bateup slipped behind Marriott and Pluimers in the early stages and gave away too much of a start on the final run leg from Burleigh to make up ground with two badly blistered feet.



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