Poole's Ironman wish in perfect Day chase
Matt Poole has shrugged aside social media wars with Kelly Slater to focus on his real battle on the beach with Ali Day next month.
The 33-year-old is the Ironman Series' oldest competitor, but after first qualifying as an 18-year-old he'll line up at North Bondi Beach for a 15th campaign confident he is far from washed up.
In October an Instagram post from Poole supporting COVID-19 vaccinations created waves when Slater chimed in to debunk it.
Poole said his position had been widely supported despite criticism from a "loud minority".
"I had friends calling me up saying 'did you see this or read that'," Poole said of his unexpected duel with the 11-time world surfing champion.
"But I wasn't glued to my phone ... it did tee off though and I will say it was entertaining."
The Gold Coast-based talent has quickly moved on, driven to produce what he would consider a "legacy-defining" win.
"You can block out all the noise in the water," the 2017 Ironman champion said.
"Unless the other guys are going up in dog years yes, I'm still the oldest and I'm feeling every bit of it.
"A 15th summer in Ironman is definitely a badge; some say my age is a disadvantage but I see it as a testament to qualify as an 18-year-old and at 33 not only be up there competing but winning.
"It's not like I'm running around making up numbers."
Poole estimates he's trained for about six hours a day, 10 months of the year, ever since his first Ironman season.
A YoPRO ambassador, Poole jokes he has a fridge full of it at home to "keep the fuel tank burning".
Despite being physically ready for Ironman rounds 1-3 from January 14-16 - there is a Summer of Surf leg at the same break a week earlier - Poole admits he'll need some help from the elements to catch Day.
The seven-time Coolangatta Gold winner secured the most dominant Ironman Series victory earlier this year, winning all six legs across the two venues.
"Ali's well rounded, extremely fit and very strong - no doubt the man to beat," Poole said.
"Those long-distance events like the Cooly gold is his bread and butter and last year's (final three rounds) in Kingscliff was all but a lake.
"Those slogs are just child's play for him.
"Locations like North Bondi, Kurrawa (Ironman's second stop), even Northcliffe (for the Summer of Surf Shannon Eckstein Classic) that's where my biggest strength is.
"Power, speed and surf skills and it balances the playing field out a hell of a lot more."
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