They’ve been to Olympic Games and won world championships but winning a sibling silver medal just about trumped them all for Dean and Steven Kent at the New Zealand surf lifesaving championships in Gisborne today.
The brothers paired up in the tube rescue for the Titahi Bay club on the first day of the three-day nationals carnival, held in balmy conditions at Midway Beach.
Despite younger brother Steve struggling with injury and 36-year-old Dean on a minimal training regime these days, they finished behind Midway’s Cory Taylor and Chris Dawson with a gutsy final sprint up the beach.
“I haven’t got a whole lot of training under my belt and Stevo has a busted knee and busted ankle so it wasn’t a bad effort,” three-time Olympic swimmer Dean said. “This is our first time competing together in the tube race and it’s really special for Steve and I to be able to do a race together like that. All the family were here and to come away with a medal makes it even more special.”
It was a family celebration in more ways than one. The Kent siblings are two of seven cousins competing this week, with Danny and Kevin Morrison (Mairangi Bay) both qualifying for Sunday’s ski race final, as did another cousin, national kayaking champion Marty McDowell, who scraped through his semifinal. Two more McDowells, Danny and Will, are also representing Titahi Bay and Dean Kent said the family reunion aspect was hugely satisfying.
“It’s testament to our parents and the movement of surf lifesaving. ‘In it for life’ kind of embodies what our family’s about – we’re into surf lifesaving in a big way, both in terms of keeping people safe and also the spirit that the whole sport side brings about. We love every minute of it and the fact you get to do events as a family is all the better.”
Taylor, the reigning national ironman champion, had a great first day, adding the tube rescue title to the run-swim-run crown he picked up earlier in the day.
Papamoa’s Natalie Peat returned from training across the Tasman to claim the scalp of Australian Kristyl Smith in the open women’s run-swim-run, and paired with Malia Josephson to claim silver in the tube rescue, behind Red Beach’s Kelsi Boocock and Rachel Clarke.
Another Australian, Melissa Howard, took out the women’s beach flags final although the New Zealand title went to 17-year-old Papamoa member Madi Kidd, from another teenager Olivia Eaton (Mount Maunganui) after the trio forced out world champion Kiwi Chanel Hickman.
Kidd was also knocked out of the under-19 final in fourth spot, with Eaton going on to win, but her first open title more than made up for it.
“I wasn’t in a good state after that – I just didn’t see the flag – but they talked me into doing the opens,” Kidd said. “There’s a huge pool of young people doing flags and sprints now which is really pushing us along.”
Howard’s fiance, Fitzroy’s Paul Cracroft-Wilson captured his fourth open men’s beach flags title, although it came eight years after his last one in 2007. He just beat Murdoch Finch (Riversdale) in the final, with 10-time champion Morgan Foster third.
“The quality in the beach events is top-knotch here in New Zealand and there could’ve been five or six guys in that final who could’ve come out on top,” Cracroft-Wilson said. “There have been a few years where I’ve missed out, which breaks my heart but I live for the flags and I’m just so glad to come back and get another one. It’s the best feeling.”
Results from the first day of the New Zealand surf lifesaving championships at Midway Beach in Gisborne today:
Run-Swim-Run. Cory Taylor (Midway) 1, Adam Simpson (Mt Maunganui) 2, Tanyn Lyndon (Northcliff, Gold Coast) 3, Chris Dawson (Midway) 4.
Tube Rescue. Midway (Chris Dawson/Cory Taylor) 1, Titahi Bay (Dean Kent/Steven Kent) 2 Mt Maunganui (Adrien Lambolez/Cameron Witney) 3.
Beach Flags. Paul Cracroft-Wilson (Fitzroy) 1, Murdoch Finch (Riversdale) 2, Morgan Foster (Sth Brighton) 3.
Run-Swim-Run. Natalie Peat (Papamoa) 1, Kristyl Smith (Northcliff, Gold Coast) 2, Devon Halligan (Midway) 3,
Kirsty Wannan (Piha) 4.
Tube Rescue. Red Beach (Kelsi Boocock/Rachel Clarke) 1, Papamoa (Malia Josephson/Natalie Peat) 2, Piha Black (Nicole Rosewarne/Kirsty Wannan) 3.
Beach Flags. Melissa Howard (Kurrawa, Queensland) 1, Madison Kidd (Papamoa) 2, Olivia Eaton (Mt Maunganui) 3, Chanel Hickman (Mairangi Bay) 4.
Run-Swim-Run. Matthew Scott (Midway) 1, Kane Sefton (Mt Maunganui) 2, Charlie Haynes (Mt Maunganui) 3.
Tube Rescue. Midway (Matthew Scott/Josiah Ney) 1, Papamoa Green (Mason Bryant/Ben Johnston) 2, Papamoa Red (Jacob Hales/Daniel Hart) 3.
Beach Flags. Jake Hurley (Mairangi Bay) 1, Sam Mispelhorn (Kurrawa, Queensland) 2, Brandon McMahon Kurrawa, Queensland) 3, Calvin Vari (Red Beach) 4, Harry Dods (Waikanae) 5.
Run-Swim-Run. Jessica Miller (Mt Maunganui) 1, Amy Barron (Mt Maunganui) 2, Ariana Moffatt (Papamoa) 3.
Tube Rescue. Keely O’Keeffe/Natalie Walsh) 1, Mt Maunganui (Jessica Miller/Grace Eglington) 2, NPOB Yellow (Jenna Barrett/Aimee Daniels) 3.
Beach Flags. Olivia Eaton (Mt Maunganui) 1, Casie Fyall (Waikanae) 2, Zoe Hobbs (Fitzroy) 3.
Run-Swim-Run. George Williams (Omanu) 1, Hamish Miller (Mt Maunganui) 2, Morgan Brockelsby (Mt Maunganui) 3.
Tube Rescue. Mt Maunganui (Daniel Barron/Hamish Miller) 1, Lyall Bay (Lewis Clareburt/David Long) 2, Mt Maunganui (Morgan Brockelsby/Isaac Marshall) 3.
Beach Flags. Stefan Powney (Orewa) 1, Ishmael Perkins-Banse (Maranui) Liam Stephenson (Papamoa) 3.
Run-Swim-Run. Olivia Corrin (Midway) 1, Grace Kaihau (Orewa) 2, Maia Bryant (Papamoa) 3.
Tube Rescue. Midway (Jessica Blakeman/Olivia Corrin) 1, Papamoa Green (Maia Bryant/Malia Josephson) 2, Mt Maunganui (Libby Bradley/Tessa Bradley) 3.
Beach Flags. Alicia Wilson (Mt Maunganui) 1, Chelsea Grant (Red Beach) 2, Sophie Twigley (Midway) 3.
Points after Day 1: Mt Maunganui 32, Midway 28, Papamoa 19, Fitzroy 9, Red Beach 9, Orewa 5, Mairangi Bay 4, Omanu 3, Waikanae 3, Lyall Bay 3, Titahi Bay 3, Riverdale 2, Piha 2, Maranui 1, NPOB 1, Sth Brighton 1.