PADDLEBOARDING: Less than a week after the death of Australian ironman Dean Mercer, the famous sporting name was back on the top of a result sheet thanks to his world championship-winning niece on the other side of the world.
The 23-year-old daughter of Mercer's brother Darren, Jordan, won the women's distance crown at the ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in Denmark - and immediately dedicated it to her grieving family.
"I just had to win, not just for me but for my family," said Mercer, whose uncle died from a heart attack at the wheel last Monday, in a loss that has stunned the surf lifesaving world.
"They are going through a tough time and deserve this happiness and joy in their lives right now."
Mercer was in Australia at the time of Dean's death but was encouraged by family to race in honour of her famous uncle.
And as her uncle did during his stellar career as one of his sport's toughest competitors, Mercer showed plenty of grit to achieve the feat in the gruelling distance race.
Mercer firstly had to make major repairs to her board just to race and then was unable to break from the field until the final sprint of the 18km race around Copenhagen Harbour.
She eventually claimed victory by less than a board from New Zealander Jessica Miller and Denmark's Katrine Zinck.
"Just last night my board arrived at the airport and we discovered that there was a huge crease in it," said Mercer, a nine-time ISA medallist.
"My teammates along with friends from other competing nations stayed up late last night fixing it.
"The first time I saw my board was this morning before the race and I just had faith that things would go my way.
"To paddle for 20km and come down to a sprint finish is the toughest way to have a race go so I knew I had to be really technical and be smart, but you really want to try to push as many girls back as you can."
Dean Mercer had four sons to wife Reen. His funeral is on the Gold Coast this Friday.
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