Surf Ironman champion Cory Hutchings talks to Dunedin
secondary school pupils (from left) Naomi Ireland (Columba
College), Aaron Farrell (Bayfield), Heather Macleod (Otago
Girls) and James Brinsdon (John McGlashan) at John
McGlashan College yesterday. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Former world surf ironman champion Cory Hutchings still
likes beetroot, but he does not eat as much of it as he used
Hutchings ate three peeled beetroot a day as medication when
he suffered from a debilitating bout of hepatitis A through
water contamination at Manly, Sydney, in 1994.
He spent time in hospital and had four months off training as
he gradually regained his strength and fitness.
"I can't pinpoint it to anything else apart from that," said
Hutchings, who was in Dunedin yesterday in his role as a
Hutchings (37), who lives in Gisborne, went on a beetroot
diet and his liver function improved back to normal over a
"In retrospect, it was one of the best things that ever
happened to me," he said during a talk to secondary school
"I was told by a doctor I probably wouldn't race again and
that inspired me. My best result at the worlds before my
illness was 15th. Once I realised it could all be over, it
made me really determined to get back into it.
"It was kind of a funny remedy but it worked for me. That is
the key. Don't accept negative opinions from other people.
Find things that work for you and stick to it. Grab on to
something positive and go for it."
Hutchings won the world title at three consecutive
championships to equal the record set by Australian Trevor
He retired from the professional circuit in 2003. He was born
in Gisborne and his father, Ben, was coach of the New Zealand
canoeing team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when the men's
team of Ian Ferguson, Paul MacDonald, Alan Thompson and Grant
Bramwell won gold medals in four events.
"When I was 12 years old, I had guys like Ferguson and
MacDonald hanging around who had won Olympic gold medals," he
said. "My destiny was chosen."
This was the inspiration for his gold medals.
"When you are at that age you're influenced by guys like
that, who win Olympic gold medals," Hutchings said. "It is
not just about being the best in your school any more. It's
about being the best kid in the world.
Hutchings said New Zealand lost the culture of winning for a
few years but was getting it back.
"I tell the kids that this class is not about participation.
It's about winning and achieving. They say 'yeah, yeah'. For
our elite kids it's a bit bigger than just participation," he
"We talk to them about the importance of winning and what it
takes to win. It's a bit of a different message because New
Zealand has been through a heavy participation stage.
Hutchings does not think there is anything complicated in
becoming a world champion.
"It is just hard work. There is no substitution for hard
work," he said.
"It is not just natural talent. I've raced hundreds of guys
who have just as much natural talent as me.
"It's a total dedication to your sport and putting in the
time and believing in yourself.
"You are going to get hard knocks along the way and people
who say you can't do it and you are going to have some bad
results. It is important to believe in yourself and back
Occupation: Sparc ambassador
Family: Angela (wife), children Korbin (11), Skye (9),
Luke (7) and Zac (2 weeks)
Sport: Surf ironman
Record: World champion 1998 , 2000, 2002; NZ champion