Couple creates history in Nutri-Grain series

Matt Bevilacqua and Brielle Cooper celebrate their wins. Picture: Brett Costello
Matt Bevilacqua and Brielle Cooper celebrate their wins. Picture: Brett Costello

WHEN Matt Bevilacqua woke Sunday to chilly conditions, a howling southerly and whitewater he turned to partner Brielle Cooper and joked they should spend the day in bed.

Instead they spent it writing surf history at North Cronulla as the first couple to win the prestigious Nutri-Grain ironman and ironwoman series.

Cooper, at just 18, became the youngest winner of a professional ironwoman series after a day of drama which saw her knocked out in the first of three races in wild, messy surf.

Convinced her tilt for the crown was over, Cooper had to be persuaded by officials she had actually won the series title on a countback when rival Harriet Brown was knocked out in the second race of the day.

"It really is unbelievable. I really didn't expect this at all," said Cooper, who competed in last year's series as an unknown wildcard.

Matt Bevilacqua leads the way.
Matt Bevilacqua leads the way. Warren Lynam

"I didn't do very well and I really just wanted to prove this season I wasn't just a name on a pair of togs."


Instead, Cooper became the first teenager to win a professional series crown despite not even qualifying for the first round of the six-event series at Queenscliff back in October

Waiting to congratulate her was Bevilacqua, 25, who also overcame the odds to win his first professional men's title in five years of trying.

The Tasmanian lifesaver, now based on the Gold Coast with Cooper, had to beat rival and training partner Ali Day to claim his maiden crown - a feat he did with a second place over Day's third.

Bevilacqua, who has trained in snow over the years in Tasmania, said all the early morning wake up calls were worth it when he realised he had won.

A hug of champions. Picture: Brett Costello
A hug of champions. Picture: Brett Costello

"I had dreams of winning this series and to do it with Brielle is amazing. I can't deal. I can't believe it, " he said.

Bevilacqua said he and Cooper had avoided talking about the prospect of winning on the same day.

"We just keep things calm and easy. We said this morning can't we stay in bed all day. It's dark and windy out there," he laughed.

Northern Beaches ironman Max Brooks won the Cronulla round on Sunday from Bevilacqua and Day.

Lana Rogers, who grew up at Cronulla but is now based on the Sunshine Coast, won the women's round from Newport's Georgia Miller and North Bondi's Lizzie Welborn.

Topics:  brielle cooper ironman ironwoman matt bevilacqua nutri-grain series surf sports

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