Jackson Symonds is the back-to-back winner of the SLSWA Open Athlete of the Year title and the 2017 Bernie Kelly Medallist, and it’s not hard to see why: Jackson is one of the most consistent performers in elite WA surf sport.
His work ethic cannot be faulted, with his determination part of the key to the incredible results he produces. It is these traits of determination and persistence that Jackson is also passing onto his fellow training squad members at Sorrento SLSC.
Jackson is just about to jump on a plane to Japan as part of the Australian Life Saving Team to compete at the Sanyo Cup this weekend (June 24-25). Team Aus will be competing against some of the best athletes from New Zealand, Japan, USA, Great Britain, Netherlands, South Africa and Hong Kong at Momochihama Seaside Park in Fukuoka.
So we spoke to Jackson about his competition this weekend, holding onto the Open Athlete of the Year title and what else he has planned for the year ahead.
Q. Do you still stand by your Weetbix superstition of only having three before a carnival?
A. Haha of course – it seems to keep working so I’ll stand by it until it fails me.
Q. You’re heading off to Japan to represent Australia at the Sanyo Bussan Cup – how many times have you been over for the Sanyo Bussan Cup and what are you most excited for?
A. This is my second time heading over to Sanyo. I went in 2013 and it was one of the best trips I’ve been on. It’s always exciting to head overseas and represent your country and meet everyone from the different countries. I’ve also recently started with my new flags coach (Daniel Robberds) on something new, so I guess I’m excited to see how that goes over there.
Q. What is your highlight from the past year of competition?
A. I have a few highlights from last year, obviously winning back to back Open Sprint titles is pretty special, but I think seeing fellow Sorrento beachies Charlie Rigby and Caleb Paulus go 1-2 in the U/19’s sprint at Aussies was the highlight for me.
Q. What is your favourite song lyric, or movie quote?
A. “They’ve done studies you know, 60% of the time it works every time”- Brian Fantana (Anchorman)
Q. If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
A. It would have to be Winnie the Pooh, purely because he loves eating, he’s childlike, a little slow and loveable…well depending on who you ask I guess.
Q. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
A. It would definitely have to be my mum and dad, followed by my coach’s (Jenny Plint) husband Jeremy Plint. They have always supported me no matter what, and I’d love to become half the people they are.
Q. If you could give your younger self some advice, what would you say?
A. I think it would have to be, to try be the best version of yourself in whatever you do, and to have the will to succeed, and to know you’ve put the hard work in and the confidence to let it show.
Q. What does the upcoming year of surf sports look like for you?
A. It’s going to be a busy year, I’m off to Japan in a few days to compete, then it will just be building towards Aussies in Perth to defend my title then continue onto Lifesaving World Championships in Adelaide 2018.
Q. What does receiving the Open Athlete of the Year award and the Bernie Kelly Medal mean to you?
A. It’s pretty special and overwhelming to win one of the awards in a year, let alone both. It’s a privilege to be award the Bernie Kelly medal, as there were a lot of quality athletes who achieved some great results at State title this year; so it’s humbling.
To win the Open Athlete of the Year was a bit of a shock, I didn’t really expect it – especially after the year Tom Nolan (North Cottesloe SLSC) had winning two Open medals at nationals.
I wouldn’t have been able to achieve the result I did to win these awards without the help of Sorrento Surf Club, my coach Jenny Plint, physio Craig King and the rest of the Sorrento beachies squad.
Q. What is one piece of advice you have for younger members of surf lifesaving looking to get into beach events?
A. I think the best advice I could pass on is: just give it a go, keep trying as you never know where/what will happen. I used to be a board paddler so I’m pretty happy I made the switch to become a beachie.
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