LAURENCE O’Toole has broken through for his maiden STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Australian Championship and will represent his country on the world stage after a dominant performance in the finals on the Gold Coast.
The 36-year-old needed the last heat of the day to pull away from fellow Victorian Brayden Meyer, as the pair were tied on 32 points heading into the hotsaw discipline, but seven points was enough for O’Toole to finish on top of the table and take the national title for the first time after several years of falling just short.
“It’s an incredible feeling to win after so many years of going so close,” O’Toole said.
“I have put so much effort into trying to win this event and for it to finally happen is unbelievable. You think about this moment a lot and after the start today, I wasn’t that confident but I was able to bounce back and do enough to come out on top.
“It’s a big thing to go to the World Championships and represent Australia and I want to go there and do my country proud and hopefully win another championship.”
O’Toole won both the stocksaw and single buck events to take the maximum points, and he did enough in the other disciplines, earning six points from the underhand chop as well as five points from both the springboard and standing block, out of a maximum 8 points per discipline on offer.
However, Meyer would not go down lightly with the 2015 champion scoring eight points from the springboard as well as seven points from both the standing block and underhand, but it was the stocksaw and hotsaw disciplines which proved costly for the 23-year-old, who finished in second place.
The top two were followed closely by defending two time champion Brad De Losa (NSW), who finished third with 33 points, and Victorian Glen Gillam also on 33 points who was pushed to fourth due to his total time from the six disciplines being almost 14 seconds behind.
De Losa was impressive in the Hotsaw as always, as the 41-year-old recorded a time of 6.28 seconds to take the maximum eight points and also seven points from the springboard and single buck. But it was the standing block and underhand chop which ended his chances of a third title after he recorded just three points from those disciplines.
Gilliam overcame a seventh-place finish from the springboard event to bounce back into title contention with wins in the standing block and underhand chop disciplines to book his spot in the Chopperoos team along with O’Toole, Meyer, De Losa and Jamie Head, who was the wildcard entry for the team to compete in England next month.
O’Toole will compete in the individual event at the STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® World Championships while Brayden Meyer (underhand chop), Brad De Losa (single buck), Glen Gillam (standing block) and Jamie Head (stocksaw) will form the Australian relay team for the competition.
“I will head over to America pretty soon to start preparing and competing in some events as well as training midweek, so hopefully I’ll be ready to do well at the World Championships,” O’Toole said.
STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® Australian Championships Event Director Lee Gooch said he was confident the Chopperoos could win back the team title from New Zealand.
“It’s a very good team with great athletes involved in every discipline, it’s a team we think can win back the title, and bring home the championship,” he said.
Rounding out the table was Kody Steers (TAS), who finished fifth with 22 points and recorded a personal best time of 6.59 seconds in the hotsaw along the way. Matt Gurr (TAS) put in a solid performance in what might be his last national championships with 19 points, while Mitchell Argent (QLD) finished seventh on 16 points. Jamie Head (QLD) finished eighth on 15 points but did enough across the weekend to impress in the stocksaw discipline and earn his spot on the Chopperoos team.
Argent and Head received the only disqualifications for the finals with both coming in the hotsaw discipline.
“The event was a huge success here on the Gold Coast, we had a great atmosphere with great athletes and exceptional competition across the weekend,” Gooch said.
“In every competition, including the women’s and rookie’s championships, we saw some impressive performances which showed the sport is really on the rise.
“We had more than 10,000 spectators across the weekend, and the livestreams reached over 79,000 people online, which is a great result and we couldn’t have held it in a better location than here on the Gold Coast.”
The STIHL TIMBERSPORTS® World Championships will be held at Echo Arena in Liverpool, England on October 19 and 20.
STIHL TIMBERSPORTS AUSTRALIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL RANKINGS
- Laurence O’Toole (VIC) – 39 points
- Brayden Meyer (VIC) – 36 points
- Brad De Losa (NSW) – 33 points
- Glen Gillam (VIC) – 33 points
- Kody Steers (TAS) – 22 points
- Matt Gurr (TAS) – 19 points
- Mitchell Argent (QLD) – 16 points
- Jamie Head (QLD) – 15 points