Matthew rides wave of form into Southern States Challenge

WARRNAMBOOL teenager Matthew Hardiman hopes his strong board form will help Victoria at the Southern States Challenge next week.

The Hobart-based tri-state surf lifesaving tournament, which will pit Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania against one another, will serve as Matthew’s state debut.

Matthew, 14, will compete in the under 15 section and was the only western region lifesaving junior selected across three age groups.

Victoria will send a 24-strong team to the January 9 to 12 competition.

Matthew impressed selectors at pool and beach trials at Ocean Grove.

“My strength would be in the water and on the board,” he said.

“That is one of the reasons why I got in because on the board I am up there with the rest of the guys.

“It is a race out to three cans in the ocean and back to the shore and the first one basically wins.

“You have to be able to get through all the waves.”

The Emmanuel College student started in Warrnambool Surf Life Saving Club’s nippers program and is now relishing his first senior carnival summer.

“I enjoy being at the beach and with carnivals and races I like the feeling of no day being the same because the ocean is different every day,” Matthew said. “I like the challenge. I like when there is a little bit of a swell but not massive.”

Life Saving Victoria aquatic sport junior co-ordinator Luke Gavin said Victoria finished second to South Australia at last year’s Southern States Challenge.

“Our young athletes did a brilliant job representing their state in lifesaving last year and we look forward to seeing them battle it out once again for state glory,” he said. 

“It was a difficult job for the selectors to pick the team as there were many top athletes at the selection trials.

“To be selected is an outstanding achievement, as only four boys and four girls per age group are chosen to represent the state.

“This year we have a very strong team that should compete very well in Tasmania.”

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