Lennox surf champ stoked team named after deadly jellyfish
An Australian champion surfer said naming a national sporting team after an extremely venomous jellyfish that inhabit Australian waters let's the competition know they mean business.
On March 17, 2021, Surfing Australia announced all its surfing team will combine under The Irukandjis: Deadly in the Water, named after the Irukandji jellyfish.
Three times world para surfing champion and recent Lennox Head resident Matt Formston, 42, said he's thrilled all the different surfing genres, including Junior, Open, Masters, Olympic, Longboard, Big Wave, Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) and Adaptive disciplines, would compete under The Irukandjis national identity and united colours at international events such as the Olympics, International Surfing Association (ISA), World Surfing Games, WSL World Juniors and Longboard Championships.
Formston, who is visually impaired, previously won gold and silver medals at the 2014 and 2015 UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships and represented Australia with pilot Nick Yallouris, at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
He said it's an honour and privilege to represent your country on the world stage.
"Like the tiny Irukandji, we plan to be disruptive and punch well above our size on the world stage," he said.
"The world is changing and there's been a lot of focus on the inclusion and equality for men and women and with prize money and I feel it's important to have para sports on equal footing.
"And names are important, look at the Wallaby's in rugby."
After he retired from competitive cycling, Formston's decades of soul surfing saw him will placed to take bronze in the 2016 world titles.
"I have won three of the four world titles but have been surfing for nearly 40 years now," he said.
"I want to keep going and want to start chasing really big barrels."
The Irukandjis name was generously gifted to Surfing Australia by the Yirrganydji people of North Queensland, driven by the efforts of Indigenous athlete and former World Tour surfer, Soli Bailey.
Surfing Australia chair, seven-time world champion, Layne Beachley said names and identity are powerful forces.
"As surfing enters the Olympics for the first time and enjoys incredible popularity worldwide, it was time to give our Australian team an identity that we can all rally behind," she said.
"The Irukandji's sting in the water is ferocious and that is how our Australian surfers approach competition."