Mercers Super For Series: Hendy

Illawarra Mercury

Friday October 24, 1997

By GLENN TOBIN

Ironman king Trevor Hendy yesterday declared the $900,000 Uncle Tobys Super Series was heading into a new dimension following the late injection of "awesome" Thirroul surf life savers Darren and Dean Mercer.

For the first time in almost nine years, the indomitable Mercers finally were granted permission to race on the UTSS, despite the fact it is run and backed by Uncle Tobys, the direct market rival of their own personal sponsors.

The Mercer siblings have been contracted to Kellogg's for almost a decade with their lucrative relationship previously preventing them from competing on the rival series because of conflicting schedules and obvious marketing problems.

But Kellogg's executives on Thursday decided that Darren and Dean could race this year on the glamorous six-event UTSS. The only stipulation, which has been accepted by series directors, is that they compete without the Uncle Tobys logo on their race singlets.

So ended the cereal war that divided the sport for the past decade.

Hendy, a six-time national champion and four-time world title holder, says the influx of Darren (current national champion) and Dean (reigning World Oceanman title holder) is a blessing.

And race one of the new-look series starts at North Burleigh (Queensland) tomorrow.

"Darren and Dean are awesome athletes, proven as two of the best ironmen in the world and their inclusion in the series is nothing short of unreal," Hendy said from the Gold Coast.

"It has opened the sport right back up the way it should be with all the best ironmen competing against each other. I think the fact they are in the Uncle Tobys series over seven races will finally put to rest who is the best ironman going around at the moment.

"Obviously both Darren and Dean have claims to that title and everyone in the series is stoked they have been given the chance to come and compete with us for an entire summer.

"I have to say Uncle Tobys and Kellogg's have to be congratulated for initiating this. Everyone is really looking forward to racing. It is very exciting having them in the series."

Fittingly, Hendy - who is back at peak form - and the Mercers now look like the trio to beat for the summer's Uncle Tobys title.

Meanwhile, North Wollongong ironman Jonathan Crowe yesterday declared he was an "85 per cent" chance of starting the North Burleigh race.

Crowe, who also passionately applauded the presence of the Mercer brothers in the series, was in severe doubt earlier this week when battling a chest infection. He had spent more than four days in bed with the virus. But he has been able to undertake some light training in the past two days and says he will race in Queensland.

"I think I will be right. I will just get up there and see how I am, but I am keen to start and finish the race," he said yesterday.

"It comes as a major blow for me. I was really looking forward to this race and preparing well for it. I was determined to get a huge result because the longer marathon style races suit me and have provided with me with my best results over the years.

"As it stands, I will look at entering the race, doing my best and hope for a reasonable result. Anything in the top 20 would be an absolute bonus. But if I get out there and feel OK, I will go for it."

© 1997 Illawarra Mercury

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