Louis claims ironman title
A DECADE after he won a junior title at Scarborough Beach, Kendrick Louis has returned to Western Australia to claim a maiden ironman title in the twilight of his career.
Louis claimed Manly's first Australian ironman title as he held off Coolangatta Gold champion Ali Day and Shannon Eckstein, the man rated by many the greatest ironman of all time.
Often a bridesmaid in senior competition, Louis finally had his moment in the sun, adding his name to legends of the sport including Grant Kenny, Trevor Hendy and Eckstein to have won the title.
"They're hard to win. To be up there with the likes of Shannon, Grant Kenny, Trev, the great Dean Mercer and Cam Cole, there's not many of them and I'm really humbled to be a part of it now."
Louis celebrated his previous greatest moment in the sport on Scarborough Beach but it had been a long time between drinks.
"It was 10 years ago that I won my last Aussie title in under-19s here on this beach, so it's a bloody bittersweet victory, I tell you," Louis said.
"Over the last few years I've learned to really harness and control my emotions.
"I ran around behind Dan Collins and overtook Shannon (Eckstein) that transition into the (final leg of the) board and thought, 'I've still got something in me here.'
"I just had to get the job done.
"I've been watching all the other races and that last 50 metres is where it's won and lost and I picked up that last little wave and the emotions took over."
The 27-year-old took inspiration from US swimming great Katie Ledecky for his win leading from the front, after winning his heat, quarter-final, semi and then taking out the final.
"I've been researching a heap of athletes before I came to the Aussies and Katie Ledecky, a swimmer from the US, her race plan is to go out hard and hang on," Louis said.
"And that's exactly what I did here.
"The only thing here is you've got a bit of Mother Nature to deal with as well."
Louis handled the tricky shore dump perfectly though to score the greatest win of his career.
"I don't do this to make money, I don't do it to keep sponsors happy, I do it purely because I love it, and everything else that comes on board, that's just a reward for what you do and what you love," he said.
The Australian Surf Life Saving titles wrapped up on Saturday, 24 hours ahead of schedule due to poor weather expected in Perth on Sunday.