Day wins inaugural World Ironman Bali
ALI Day and Jordan Mercer have hailed the inaugural World Ironman Series event in Bali as "world-class" and "the most amazing racing experience".
Surfers Paradise ironman Day and Noosa's Mercer scooped the pool at the inaugural event, winning both days of individual competition to take the inaugural World Ironman Series titles.
Day, a five-time Coolangatta Gold champion, led the eight-man field after the first day of competition at Finns Beach Club at Canggu and dominated again in the eliminator rounds on Sunday night to emerge as the champion.
"I didn't know what to expect coming over here, to win the first ever World Ironman Bali title is amazing," Day said.
"The crowd and support over here has been like nothing else, it's got me really excited to see where this event goes in the future."
Noosa's Mercer also dominated both days, leading Gold Coasters Maddy Dunn and Courtney Hancock after Saturday night's accumulator races before winning the eliminator on Sunday night.
Mercer said World Ironman Bali had been "the most amazing racing experience I have ever had".
"The Finns Beach Club location, atmosphere and ocean conditions have been world class," she said.
"This victory means so much to me. I'm honoured to have the World Ironwoman Series title to my name.
"I have had a tough comeback campaign recovering from injury and there's no greater way to prove to myself that I am back at the top of my sport."
Competitor Matt Bevilacqua and fellow Gold Coast-based surf lifesaver Matt Poole came up with the World Ironman Series concept, with the inaugural event held in Bali over the weekend.
Poole, a former Nutri-Grain series champion, wants to ensure the future of professional ironman racing and he and Bevilacqua tipped their own money into the venture, which Poole hopes will expand next year.
"I've been one of the fortunate ones that's had a very successful career and I've made a living out of this and so have some of the other names," Poole said.
"And I want to ensure that that continues to happen for the kids going through five, 10, 15 years from now."
The inaugural series also attracted former ironman series champions Ky Hurst and Zane Holmes out of retirement, although both finished outside the placings.
But Hurst said it had been a privilege to take part.
"It was an honour to be asked to come out of retirement and race against two of the greatest ironmen in Shannon Eckstein and Zane Holmes," Hurst said.
"I forgot how fit you have to be to compete at this level.
"Obviously the swim came back naturally but with a small preparation the fitness wasn't what it used to be."