- 2018 Games to embolden new generation of champions
- Beaches and Hinterland ideal for healthy pursuits
- No excuse not to live fit in Coast climate
“Greatness Rarely Seen” is the promise for next year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
The elite benchmark also reflects the stellar achievements of one of the city's greatest sporting stars – surf ironwoman legend Karla Gilbert.
Karla was a 15-year-old junior at Surfers Paradise SLSC when she won her first professional ironwoman race in 1990.
It was the beginning of her own personal greatness.
The diminutive Gold Coaster, with a heart like Phar Lap, went on to win two ironwoman world titles, three ironwoman Australian championships and seven ironwoman series crowns.
She amassed 16 Australian surf lifesaving gold medals and three times was named top competitor at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.
Since retiring from ironwoman competition, the now 42-year-old has taken up the new sport of stand-up paddling (SUP).
Not surprisingly, Karla has already won four Australian SUP titles and has contested the world championships twice, most recently last November when she was one of only two females in the Australian team that travelled to Fiji.
Her achievements are an enviable measure in a sports-mad city that has produced a host of world champions - athlete Sally Pearson, surfer Mick Fanning, motorsport's Mick Doohan, swimmer Grant Hackett and golfer Adam Scott, to name just a few.
Now married to Andrew and with two daughters (Ella, 9, and Summer, 6), Karla says the Gold Coast's healthy outdoor lifestyle will not only ensure “Greatness” at the Games but will also inspire a new generation of Australian sporting champions.
“There is no excuse not to live fit when you live on the Gold Coast,” Karla says as the countdown clock to GC2018 ticks down to One Year to Go on April 4, 2017.
With more than 300 days of sunshine each year, Karla says the Host City for the 2018 Games is the “perfect climate” not just for athletes in training but also for residents and visitors of all ages who enjoy the outdoors.
“We are pretty spoilt here, very spoilt,” she says.
“We don't have the stress of being in the big smoke, we just have everything here.
“There are plenty of choices from the beaches to the Hinterland but you can still escape to places and feel like you are on own . . . places that are really unique.”
Karla lives at Palm Beach on the southern end of the Coast where trendy cafés and restaurants have opened in recent years as part of a quiet but growing transformation of the beachside hamlet.
It is an ideal location for her lifestyle, health and wellness coaching business.
A few kilometres to the north is the scenic Tally (Tallebudgera) Valley and about the same distance south is the lush Currumbin Valley.
One of Karla's favourite “relaxation” activities is to ride her bike among the farms, trees, creeks, waterfalls and wildlife found abundant in both valleys.
“I just get out there and take a look around and get lost with the cows and the horses,” she says.
“Whatever load is on my shoulders at that time just disappears as I take in the fresh air . . . you can really notice the difference.
“Once I come back I just feel totally relaxed.”
Despite her own sporting fame and achievement, Karla says she is excited about the prospect of watching athletes from 70 Commonwealth nations compete across 18 different sports at next year's Games, which run from April 4-15.
She plans to take her daughters to see as many sports as possible and encourages other Gold Coasters and visitors to the city to do the same with their children.
“To be able to show them different sports live is really going to inspire them,” she says.
“You can tell them as much as you want about something but until they see it or get into the atmosphere of a big sporting event, they can't feel it.
“Gold Coast 2018 is going to be a great opportunity to do that.
“It's the chance to not only inspire our next generation of sporting stars but to get everyone thinking about a fitter and healthier lifestyle.”
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Author: Geoff Stead
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