Spider man skis to victory in NZ
THE AGONY of being bitten by a white-tailed spider turned into ecstasy for Nick Purcell in New Zealand.
The 20-year-old member of the Maryborough-Hervey Bay Waterski Club ignored the pain barrier to help Australia beat the Kiwis in a Trans-Tasman team showdown just north of Auckland.
Despite being barely able to get his swollen foot into a boot on the ski, Purcell, who was making his debut for his country, won the under 21 slalom event in style.
He top scored in the preliminary round with three bouys at 11 metres and backed up that performance in the final with two bouys at 11 metres, five bouys ahead of his nearest rival.
Australia wrapped up winning the four-day tournament by taking the honours in the jump and trick events.
Not only was Purcell’s performance good enough to win the slalom crown, his score also gave him a wild card entry into the New Zealand Open which was being held in conjunction with the international clash.
Luckily he didn’t have to ski in the event and his score was good enough for him to finish second overall – he was beaten by a professional skier from Mexico.
Purcell, whose 18-year-old sister Denni was a reserve for the Australian team in New Zealand but got to ski in a couple of events without finishing in the medal hunt, said the pain he went through was worth it all.
“I was really lucky to be able to ski at all,” Purcell, the current Queensland under 21 slalom champion, said.
“I just thought I had been bitten by an ant during practice on the Sunshine Coast a couple of days before we left for Auckland so I thought nothing more of it.
“It was a different story when I arrived over there – I was in agony so I went to a hospital and they gave me antibiotics by IVF.
“That was the day before the tournament started so I missed out on practice as well.
“The drugs kicked in just in time for me to race but that didn’t mean it wasn’t painful trying to put my foot in the boot – it was shocking, but even worse trying to get it out after because it had swollen up again.
“Saying that, it doesn’t get any better than getting the chance to represent your country and I wasn’t about to miss it for anything.”
Purcell flew into Melbourne last night in readiness to contest the Australian Masters at Bridgewater in Victoria this week.
The tournament is a warm up for the nationals in Perth in April.