Kira Llewellyn with Ashley Noffke.
Kira Llewellyn with Ashley Noffke. JOHN MCCUTCHEON

Crying out to compete

SHE is a former world champion who craves getting another chance to compete against the best - but for Kira Llewellyn, her desire and the reality of the situation are a bad mix.

On the same week of her induction into the Sunshine Coast Sports Hall of Fame, Llewellyn fears a lack of financial support has prematurely ended her career at age 28.

Crowned the world's best in 2005 and the winner of 20 IBA World Women's Tour events in her illustrious career, she has been sidelined since 2009 because of a lack of money.

Llewellyn, back on the Sunshine Coast after a stint living on the Gold Coast, said that while a lot of athletes welcomed retirement, she was not ready to hang up her board.

"I know that I'm supposed to maybe be transitioning and to do coaching or commentating, but I don't want to say that's it," she said.

"I'm only 28. I don't feel like my career's over yet. I still feel that there could be a chance (of resurrecting it).

"I'm young enough to maybe get back out there and do it a bit longer - leave the door open for a little while longer before I close it."

Llewellyn occasionally does bodyboarding "media" work, but is essentially unemployed at present.

She bemoans the lack of support for the sport in Australia.

The Kawana resident is still doing a lot of bodyboarding by herself and looks in great shape, but her last world tour win was in Spain in 2007.

"It's hard to be in between, knowing that you're still involved in the sport but you're not one of the actual competitors … I believe I should be competing," she said.

"I feel I still have too much passion and drive to be a competitor to be falling back on doing something else."

Llewellyn's mother, Sue, said the dismantling of her daughter's career had been "very hard" to witness.

"We went through quite a lot … it's (getting adequate financial support) very, very difficult, especially for the girls," she said.

Llewellyn won the first of her two junior national titles at age 14 and went on to win three open-age national crowns.

The youngest Australian to win at Hawaii's legendary Pipeline break was also the first non-Brazilian to win the Brazil Rip Pro and was twice a winner at the World Surfing Games.

The year she won the world title, she had amassed six Australian pro tour championships.