Training and study fill Nadis life
By ADAM HICKS
NADI CANNING has gone from still water swimming obscurity to one of the country's most promising ironwomen in 18 months and in a few years she'll be a medical practitioner.
The 22-year-old Dorroughby doctor-in-training finished the gruelling Coolangatta Gold ironwoman last weekend in 16th position, two places behind surf life saving pin-up girl Candice Falzon.
But Falzon, also 22, had a big head start.
While she was winning State titles in the surf as a 13-year-old, Canning was just starting to chase a black line down the centre of a pool.
"I was a pool swimmer. I started at age 12 but I didn't get into it seriously until I was 16," she said.
Canning had limited success in the pool, making it to State and national junior titles, before switching to the beach with the Lennox Head Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club 18 months ago.
"I still get scared in big surf," she said. "I just wanted something new and challenging."
And challenging she got.
The Coolangatta Gold pitted her against some of Australia's fittest women for more than three hours of intense competition.
The 30.5km event tested ironwomen over a 15km ski paddle, 1km run, 4.5km board paddle, 2.5km swim and 7.5km run over soft sand to the finish line.
Canning completed the event in 3hrs41mins, 19 minutes behind race winner Alicia Marriott of Western Australia and three minutes behind Falzon.
"I'm pretty happy with my time," she said.
"I figured that if I was within 20 minutes of the winner, that would be pretty good."
Canning said the result made up for the disappointment of missing the Coolangatta Gold last year after a training accident, when a surf ski split her calf muscle and kept her out of the water for 10 weeks.
"It's been coming for 18 months now, so to be actually able to race was just awesome," she said.
Coach Lou Wilson said the result ranked Canning among the best in the sport.
"That's up there with the elite competitors in the country," he said.
"When she started she couldn't even sit on a ski. Now, 18 months later, she's among the best paddlers in the country."
Canning was just three minutes off the leaders after the 15km paddle leg.
Wilson put her success down to hard work.
"What stands out is her capacity to train," he said.
"She works hard and puts hours and hours into training."
Canning trains every day and juggles a full-time study load at Griffith University on the Gold Coast between beach sessions at Lennox Head and the Northcliffe Surf Club.
She is in her first year of studying medicine after completing an exercise science degree at Southern Cross University with a grade point average of 6.89 that's almost straight high distinctions.
Her commitment to her education and sport doesn't leave much time for a social life.
"I pretty much train and study," she said.
"It's what I love doing. I just love training and being fit and being at the beach, and all the friends you make through the surf club are so amazing, they're like a big family."
Canning had been preparing for the Gold endurance race since May and will now alter her training to get ready for the shorter sprint events, the Ocean Assault series in Queensland and the Inter-Branch Championships in late November.
She will also set herself for the Nutri-Grain series try-outs in January and plans to compete in the Coolangatta Gold next year.
"It was hard, but I'm definitely going to do it next year, and I'll be aiming for a top 10 finish" she said.