ONE-minute Umina surf lifesaver Jemma Smith was sitting in a tent studying for her HSC exams and the next she was racing the biggest ironwoman test of her career.
The unflappable teenager took winning the opening round of the Nutri-Grain ironwoman series in her stride after a late decision to give herself a break from study to race the event at Queens cliff on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
The 18-year-old held off a star-studded field boasting the likes of former series winners Courtney Hancock, Harriet Brown and Jordan Mercer for the biggest win of her budding career as she leads home a NSW sweep of the board, swim, ski race.
A rising star of the sport after a nine-medal haul in under 17 racing at the Australian surf lifesaving championships two years ago, Smith still stunned the field after only qualifying for the race in the Ocean6 series on Saturday.
Umina’s Jemma Smith (c) with Lizzie Welborn (North Bondi) and Georgia Miller (Newport). Pic: Troy Snook
“It’s a dream, it really is, something I only dreamed of as a Nipper,” said Smith, who must sit exams in chemistry and extended mathematics this week.
“I wasn’t even planning on coming this weekend so it’s definitely exciting to win.”
Smith beat Newport’s Georgia Miller and North Welborn from North Bondi in the first NSW podium sweep of a Nutri-Grain ironwoman race in recent memory.
Mercer was the best placed of the former ironwoman champions in sixth in her longawaited