IN FRONT: Mooloolaba ironman Ali Day is heading to Newcastle hoping to claim his maiden Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Series title.
IN FRONT: Mooloolaba ironman Ali Day is heading to Newcastle hoping to claim his maiden Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Series title. PHOTO BRETT WORTMAN

Coach’s day will come if Ali fires in Newcastle

HE IS known as one of the greatest surf lifesaving coaches of the modern era, but there is still one thing eluding Michael King - producing a Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series champion.

That could change next Sunday should his charge, Ali Day, put in a stellar performance in the final two rounds of the series at Newcastle to claim a maiden title.

Day, who leads the series ahead of eight-time champion Shannon Eckstein, has been in devastating form following a year out of competition due to exhaustion.

King's proven training systems may have got Day to where he is, but it is not just about drills on the beach or hours in the surf.

It goes much deeper than that.

Speaking with any of his ironmen or ironwomen - there are seven in this year's Kellogg's series (eight if you include former charge Maddy Dunn) - it becomes evident King is so much more than a coach to these athletes.

They speak with a respect and a trust that can only be built from true belief.

A supremely modest King says that faith can only occur if both parties are equally as involved in the process.

"It is a two-way street and the athlete has got to believe in the coach, and the coach has got to believe in the athlete," he said.

"I am lucky because I have some committed athletes and some dedicated athletes, which makes a hell of a lot of difference.

"They come with an attitude that they want to improve and they buy into the program and they want to be a part of it. They have created a great culture and that comes from the way they go about things."

Looking after so many athletes and making them all feel special would surely be a huge juggling act that could only be undertaken by someone with great people skills.

"Everyone has their different strengths and weaknesses and you have to go through that with them and you have to keep it confidential too, between yourself and the athlete and what you talk about and what you do," King said.

"Everyone has a different plan and they go out and stick to the plan and do the best for themselves on race day."

One man who needs to put his hard work into practice is Day, who can top one of the greatest comebacks in ironman history by winning his first series crown in Newcastle with high finishes in rounds five and six next weekend.

"The biggest thing is that at least he is racing an absolute legend of the sport in Shannon who has won eight series," King said.

"What an opportunity and what a challenge to beat one of the greats, if not the greatest, in the sport.

"That is why there is no pressure on Ali and it is just a matter of him going down there and doing the best job he can do individually and let the rest of it take care of itself."



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