BETTER DAYS: The Coolum round was a blowout for Courtney Hancock.
BETTER DAYS: The Coolum round was a blowout for Courtney Hancock. Contributed

Hancock can respond to pressure

NEVER write off a champion when the future looks bleak.

That's the message from three time Nutri-Grain series winner Courtney Hancock who enters today's third round in Newcastle back in seventh place.

The former Sawtell ironwoman shocked fans with 11th place in the opening round at Coolum before improving to fourth place in the second day eliminator.

"Hopefully my bad one is out of the way," Courtney said.

"I felt really strong, really fit and couldn't have done much more than.

"A few little things happened and unfortunately I just wasn't on that front wave.

"I'm happy to be feeling fit and this has been a great stepping stone for me to getting back."

Courtney has had her ups and downs in Novacastrian territory.

Last January, it was where she lost her crown to arch-rival Liz Pluimers who will be missing this weekend due to injury.

But in 2013, a spectacular victory at the Newcastle round was the spark needed for another series win.

Closer to home, North Coast surf athletes are set for a spectacular summer after a promising start to the season at the Cape Hawke carnival.

Team manager Kevin Clancy was delighted with the performance.

He feels the most encouraging result was the leadership shown by the experienced athletes who mentored the younger competitors.

"Older athletes have been very generous with their time and they really look after the kids," he said.

"A lot of them have great knowledge and they're reasonable competitors so the younger athletes look up to them."

Young gun Tahlia Kollen, who was one of the team's best performers winning gold in the under-17 swim, said there was a great spirit this summer.

"I've had a couple of good results and I didn't expect to come out first in the swim so that was very pleasing," Tahlia said.

"All the pressures of the individual events are over so the team races were very fun and it's a plus to be part of them."