Matt Poole put social media wars aside with Kelly Slater to focus on his real beach battle with Ali Day next month.
The 33-year-old is the oldest contender in the Ironman series, but after qualifying for the first time at 18, he will line up at North Bondi Beach for a 15th campaign, confident he is far from be stranded.
In October, a Poole Instagram post supporting COVID-19 vaccinations created waves when Slater stepped in to debunk him.
Poole said his position had been widely supported despite criticism from a “vocal minority”.
“I had friends calling me and saying ‘have you seen this or read that’,” said Poole of his unexpected duel with the eleven world surfing champion.
“But I wasn’t glued to my phone… it started anyway and I’ll say it was entertaining.”
The Gold Coast-based talent quickly moved on, determined to produce what he would consider a “legacy-defining” victory.
“You can block out all the noise in the water,” said the 2017 Ironman champion.
“Unless the other guys are getting to dog age, yeah, I’m still the oldest and I’m feeling it every moment.
“A 15th summer at Ironman is definitely a badge; some say my age is a disadvantage, but I see it as a testament to qualifying at 18 and 33 not only to be up there competing but to win. .
“It’s not like I’m running around making up numbers.”
Poole estimates he has trained about six hours a day, 10 months a year, since his first Ironman season.
Ambassador YoPRO, Poole jokes that he has a full refrigerator at home to “keep the fuel tank on”.
While he’s physically ready for Ironman Rounds 1-3 Jan. 14-16 – there’s a Summer of Surf stop at the same break a week earlier – Poole admits he’ll need the elements to help him. to catch Day.
The seven-time Coolangatta Gold winner claimed the most dominant Ironman Series victory earlier this year, winning all six stages at both venues.
“Ali is well balanced, extremely fit and very strong – definitely the man to beat,” said Poole.
“These long distance events like Cooly Gold are his bread and butter and last year (the last three laps) at Kingscliff was anything but a lake.
“These chores are child’s play for him.
“Places like North Bondi, Kurrawa (Ironman’s second stop), even Northcliffe (for the Summer of Surf Shannon Eckstein Classic), that’s where my greatest strength is.
“Power, speed and surf skills and that balances the playing field a lot more.”
Associated Australian Press