Ben Carberry says he plans to "knuckle down" and "go back to the drawing board" after coming within inches of making his Nutri-Grain Ironman title dream become a reality on Sunday.
The Warilla-Barrack Point Surf Club junior was neck-and-neck with Matt Bevilacqua heading into the final beach sprint at Kurrawa Beach. Only a handful of points separated the pair going into the last race and, in a thrilling finish, it was Bevilacqua who found another gear to hold off Carberry.
Bevilacqua finished the last race in second place - behind Finn Askew - but it was enough for the Northcliffe athlete to claim his first Ironman title since 2018.
Conversely, it was a heart-breaking finish for Carberry, who had led this year's series heading into the final two rounds on the weekend.
The 28-year-old had a disappointing Saturday, finishing in 10th position, before securing the top-three finish on Sunday. The format for the last day of racing was "Survival", which saw the men compete in three races back-to-back, with only five minutes' rest between each race.
"Hats off to 'Bevy', he got there in the end by one point. I'm stoked for him, but I'm also stoked to overall finish second," Carberry told SBS post-race.
"But I'm going to knuckle down and watch what I did wrong, and what I can improve on in the races. I didn't have my best race yesterday (on Saturday) which, looking at it now, probably lost me the series. But I'll go back to the drawing board."
Carberry also said that he had received great support from back in the Illawarra, particularly from the Warilla-Barrack Point SLSC.
"They all came up to Maroubra (last round) and had all of their signs, cheering us on, so it was amazing to see them there," he said. "I'm so happy to have such a good club like Warilla back home."
Fellow South Coast talent Ali Day had entered the final two rounds as a title contender, however, he missed the whole weekend of racing action due to illness. Despite missing those rounds, the four-time champion still finished in 10th position on the men's leaderboard.
Georgia Miller was crowned Ironwoman champion on Sunday.
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