Kody Steers equalled the feat of woodchopping legend David Foster today, winning his sixth straight Tasmanian 400mm Underhand Championship.
Foster jokingly threatened to come out of retirement after Steers smashed his 30-year-old state record in the process. The Gowrie Park powerhouse cut through the biggest block on the state championship circuit in 38.63seconds, to smash Fosters longstanding mark of 40.04 set in 1988.
Former world champion Stephen Foster, of Devonport, with Queensland’s Jake Dingle third.
Steers was delighted with the victory and record, but said it was one of his toughest state titles to date.
“Definitely one of the best line-ups we’ve had for a while, so I feel I earned this one,” Steers said.
“I’m pretty happy to get a win in a field like that,” he said.
“This is the biggest log we cut and I had to find a bit in the back (side of the log) and I was starting to tire a little bit, but I just had enough in the tank to get me over the line.”
Steers’ focus now shifts to the several world titles to be decided at Latrobe and Burnie over the next 10 days, as well as the Eric Reece Memorial Tasmanian Government Thousands 300mm Standing Handicap, to be staged in his home town at Gowrie Park on December 30.
In contrast, sprinter Callum James got his maiden victory in the Tasmanian Christmas Carnival series, taking line honours in the mixed Rosebery Gift.
“I’ve always wanted to get a Christmas Carnivals gift win and came close before, I’m really pleased to get one finally,” the Melbourne based Engineer said.
Growing up in Launceston, James has lived and breathed the series like many Tasmanian athletes and had targeted a series win for months now.
“I’ve been working on putting all the parts of my race together and it’s working well,” James added.
On the cycling track, Launceston’s Josh Duffy took out the men’s 2000m wheelrace. The TIS Racing Team member powered home at 5thfrom the back off his 40m mark to take the title.
The title comes just a week after the 22-year-old finished in the top 10 at the National Omnium Championships, showing he’ll be one of the locals to put the pressure on the big names in the remainder of the series.
While the women’s wheelrace saw a victory to Amalia Lahngham off 20m who stormed home after starting second from the back.
Paralympic world record holder Deon Kenzie showed his recent move to the AIS as a training base hasn’t slowed him down, taking the win in the mile for his third time.
After 24 years of trying, Adrian Williams won his first Tasmanian Rockdrilling Championships last year and only had to wait 12 months to win his second.
It was the first time a driller had won back to back crowns, as he held off the highly fancied Western Australian Michael Briggs.
Back in the chopping arena, Penguin veteran Henry Maine won the RJ Howard Memorial 300mm Standing Handicap. Maine had his own fairytale win in the event he last won 46 years ago as an up and coming 16-year-old axeman.
Originally from the West Coast, Maine used his middle mark of 20 seconds well, to cut a perfect block to win easily from his uncle, Michael Maine, of Burnie.
As with the Tasmanian underhand title, a quality field also contested the Rosebery Carnival 300mm Standing Championship on the same programme, with Queenslander Jake Dingle taking a hard-fought win ahead of Kody Steers and Stephen Foster.
Dingle, who Steers described as one of the most in-form axemen in Australia at the moment, qualified for every handicap final on the day, despite starting most of his heats as the backmarker.
The powerful Queenslander will be one to watch in the upcoming world championship events.