Ali's "blessing in disguise"

KIAMA ironman Ali Day has shrugged off the disappointment of missing this year's Kellogg's Nutri-Grain series, and is determined to use that setback to spur him on to bigger and better things.

After making it back-to-back Coolangatta Gold wins in October, despite only just returning from a stress fracture in his foot, he hit the wall physically, forcing him to withdraw from his fifth Kellogg's series.

"To win one Coolangatta Gold is the best feeling as not many people have won it, but to win two after not having been able to race leading up to it and only taking the moon boot off a couple of weeks beforehand was unbelievable," Day said.

"I had to overcome the feeling that, 'will everything be OK?' It was one of those days, like 2012, where everything just fell into place.

"There are only two other guys who have won it more than once, Caine Eckstein and Guy Leech, meaning that I am only the third person to do it.

"I think the Coolangatta Gold is definitely the one surf race that everyone in Australia knows - a bit like the Melbourne Cup of horse racing."

However, things went terribly wrong during his post-race recovery.

"I came to the South Coast for the week after the race, was still on a massive high and felt a bit invincible to be honest, having won the race after not having put in the amount of work I normally would have.

"When I returned to the Sunshine Coast I was ridiculously fatigued. My body was in all sorts of trouble - I have never experienced anything like it.

"I had that feeling for a month or so and the Nutri-Grain series came up so quickly. I had to make a decision whether to do the series or not and was advised by the doctors to have a complete break.

"I had made up my mind through self-diagnosis, which is probably a bad idea, that it was chronic fatigue syndrome, but that proved incorrect and it really remains undiagnosed.

"To be honest, I think there were times during the 2012 series that my body told me I needed a rest. I had times where I had niggling injuries or felt tired but just pushed myself - I was just wrecked. I was well below my best at the Aussies [Australian titles] and was at breaking point to be honest."

He now concedes that the enforced break may well have been for the best.

"I just said to my parents last week that, while it was hard to watch this year's series knowing that I wasn't there, it may have been a blessing in disguise.

"They always say that good comes out of bad, and I am convinced that I can get to back to where I was at before the illness."

The 23-year-old, who now competes for Mooloolaba, has taken an extended break at his family home in Kiama. He will head back to the Sunshine Coast and team up with coach Michael King in the next few weeks, and hopes to be back to his best in time for the Australian titles in Perth in April.

"I have set my sights on winning the 'big three' during my career - the Coolangatta Gold, Aussie ironman title and Nutri-Grain - before I retire," he said.

"So it's one down, two to go."

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