Injury could end Eckstein’s career
IRONMAN great Shannon Eckstein's professional career is hanging by a thread after he suffered a calf injury that has crushed his chance of sealing a record 10th Nutri-Grain ironman title.
Eckstein, who has announced this will be his last season in the professional ranks, pulled his calf as he ran into the water for the opening eliminator race at Queenscliff on Saturday and is sweating on the results of scans to determine whether his series is over.
The 35-year-old was helped from the water in tears after being unable to put weight on his leg after the swim and while he will wait for an official diagnosis, it seems his series and chance of taking part in next month's world titles, is over.
"It's hard to say until I get a scan on it but from what I understand about my calves - and I've had a few injuries there before - the signs aren't good," Eckstein said.
"I'll wait for the results of the scan and see what the prognosis is and rehab time but it was pretty painful when it happened and it's got worse now."
The man widely regarded as the greatest of all time in the sport admitted to crying on the beach for the first time in a professional career spanning more than 15 years.
"It's probably the first time I've been really upset on the beach," Eckstein said.
"That's the worst feeling I've had in my sport so far.
"It wasn't nice and it's still really disappointing but there's nothing you can do, it's happened now and I'll just do all I can to be right for the rest of the summer."
Eckstein will race his final ironman at the Aussies on the Gold Coast next April but had hoped to add to his nine series and six world titles before that.
It seems a miracle would now be needed for that to happen.
"I've had little calf strains before and been able to race and race well - I had one in France at 2014 worlds but got through that and won - but this is something else.
"It's extremely disappointing."
Eckstein's injury overshadowed a breakthrough win by Mermaid Beach ironman James Lacy, who outlasted Matt Poole and Kendrick Louis to win the eliminator format race at Queenscliff.
The man dubbed "long legs Lacy" was able to beat noted sprinter Poole to the line to claim his first win ahead of Queenscliff nipper Poole, who was hoping for a win in a return to his home beach.
Lacy said he had not been overly confident heading into the first race of the season but was thrilled to come away with a win. "I'm stoked to start the season off like that and to make it through all three rounds with that result," Lacy said.
The 23-year-old had to survive three races in the eliminator format, while Poole and Louis were able to skip race two after their top-two finishes qualified them automatically for the final.
A modest Lacy reluctantly admitted a series win was a realistic goal.
"It's one of my goals but I'm just focusing on each race, I know it's a cliché but I'm just taking it one round at a time," he said. "The way the points system is, you've got to be consistently in that top five to be competitive."