March 20, 2010, 1:30 pm
Fears cyclone Ului may speed up
March 19, 2010, 9:14 am
Cyclone may oust lifesaving comp
March 18, 2010, 8:18 am
Surf comp considered safe despite injuries
March 19, 2010, 12:50 pm
Lifesaving competitor rushed to hospital
March 19, 2010, 2:36 pm
Surf competitor dies after accident
March 19, 2010, 4:56 pm
A clubmate of a young lifesaver who drowned at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships on the Gold Coast has defended the decision to run the competition despite churning surf at Kurrawa Beach.
Saxon Bird, 19, from the Queenscliff club in Sydney, died in hospital after being struck in the head by a surf ski during an iron man event on Friday.
Close friend and senior competitor for Queenscliff, Tom Atkinson, said while conditions on Friday were "testing they were contestable".
"It was suitable for racing," he told reporters on Saturday.
"The call was made to race out there and I believe that was the right call for yesterday.
"Saxon individually thrives in those conditions and he was not out of his league in any state of mind.
"I think that the right call was made, it was just an accident that could not have been avoided."
Atkinson and club president David Piper flatly rejected a newspaper report that Saxon's last words on the beach were that he didn't want to compete in the rough surf.
"That was not Saxon, that was not said," Piper told reporters.
Atkinson said there weren't any conditions his friend wouldn't have been able to handle.
"He's an amazing competitor.
"It's kind of hard for you guys to maybe understand what he's capable of, but he's the best in Australia at what he does and that's why he can do it."
Piper said Bird's father told supporters his son lived for his sport, and his club.
"And (he lived) for what we offered him and what he offered us," Piper said.
"We are deeply grieving, we have come together as a club, we are a family club and Saxon and his family, his sister and his mum and dad, are part of that family," he said.
Kurrawa Beach was quiet on Saturday morning, with just a couple of surfers braving a two-metre-plus swell, a result of Cyclone Ului, which is bearing down on the Queensland coast.
Organisers of the championships have cancelled all water-based events following the 19-year-old's death in the choppy conditions.
All water, craft and boat events in all age groups for the remainder of the championships this weekend were called off on Saturday morning, although organisers say sand-based events would continue.
Surf Life Saving Queensland has also closed all beaches on the Gold Coast due to the rough conditions.
Authorities will reassess conditions throughout the weekend and reopen beaches when they are safe.
Bird is the second person to die in the championship's history. "
this athlete that I never met has made an impact on me...
He gave his life to his sport and the sea...
I was watching these sharp thin boats go high up in the air when they crashed against the waves
and worried that they could easily land on the athletes
and it happened... I said ouch as it landed
with no clue that the boat knocked the unsuspecting young man
until later when many were screaming
that they saw a head bobbing up and down in the waves
they found his body more than a half hour later
when the other lifesavers went up and down the rough seas looking for him underwater...
everything else that has bothering me lately pales in comparison to the grief that his poor family is going through ..
and I think of my loss when I tried to save Alene and resuscitate her after her heart had stopped
many years ago...and I couldnt save her... (is this the reason I have wanted to be a lifesaver so badly to feel somehow vindicated?? is it part of my own subconcious to make up for my own guilt for not being able to save her??)
and the lifeguards were going through the surf looking for him knowing that he was long past
the period when he could be recovered...
I hope that I can make the service at 8am tomorrow at Kurrawa if the cyclone Ului isnt hitting our coast ....