In the league of Australia’s most decorated life savers, Kristy Ellis celebrated a professional career spanning 11 years, capitalising on every moment to capture state, national and world championship ironwoman titles all before her 21st birthday.
This Thursday 13th October 2016, Kristy Ellis AM (nee Munroe) will be honoured with induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame as an athlete member for the sport of surf life saving.
Always looking forward and rarely back, Ellis was reflective on her lifetime in the surf.
“This induction has set up a whole lot of emotions that I had forgotten about,” Ellis said.
“I’ve never been someone that looked back on my career, I lived in the moment – so this has been a forced reflection and something I’m now so proud of.”
Ellis was a dual world champion in the ironwoman, board and ski events, a nine-time national champion, and a member of eight Australian representative teams. She captained an Australian surf life saving team to a world titles, an achievement she regards as her sweetest career memory.
“To feel your team around you and everyone pulling together, racing not just for themselves but for you as their captain, then to become the champion nation – that event was my absolute highlight.”
“I had the fairy tale ending – going out as Australian captain and champion nation,” Ellis said of the 2008 event held in Germany. “It wrapped up everything I love about surf life saving all into that one competition – it’s what I wanted to finish on.”
Ellis enters the Hall of Fame as the fifth surf life saver and just the second female inducted.
“It made this honour that much more special – following Karla’s (Gilbert) footsteps. It’s been an amazing honour to think that I’m thought of being in her league.”
Ellis recently returned from a role with the Australian team competing at the world titles in the Netherlands as assistant team manager. Being involved in the future of surf life saving is a duty Ellis isn’t letting go of anytime soon.
“For around 15 years I’ve had roles in the national governance of our sport, it’s something I’ve always been really interested in, and passionate about having a say in how the sport’s run.”
A path starting from athlete representative on different panels led to a role as the sport’s integrity advisor for several years – the sport relies on volunteers like Ellis to ensure the best sustainability for future athletes to succeed like Kristy.
As an enthusiastic six-year-old, Kristy followed in the footsteps of her life saver father, Ray, onto the beach at Alexandra Headland on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
The rise from nippers to state, national and world championship ironwoman crowns was just as swift as her ability to swim and paddle. Prior to winning her first national ironwoman crown Ellis was selected as a junior to represent Australia in athletics.
Now a mother to Eddy (four) and Pippa (two) she has barely slowed since retiring in 2008, having recently returning to Alexandra Headland.
“I wandered back down to the surf club, dusted off my ski that I hadn’t touched in over six years and started ski paddling again,” she said.
Rather than going through the motions, Ellis competed at the nationals and medalled in an open event. The surf and the club are in her blood, with father Ray also an Alexandra Headland life member.
“It hasn’t always been a big surf club despite how wonderful it is,” she said.
“I never left for a bigger squad or great coach. There were some years where I didn’t have anyone to train with or a coach – my biggest influences were both my parents, in particular my dad who was my coach for many of my younger teen years.”
“Dad really instilled a lot of values around loyalty in me which really paid dividends. I’m so grateful for everything he’s taught me.”
Ellis retired at just 25-years-of-age but accomplished more than many athletes could ever hope for.
“Achieving this from a smaller club it’s been such a beautiful time, tying up so nicely,” Ellis said. “It’s an honour I never would have expected but a lovely kind of closure to a career.”
Kristy Ellis will be inducted to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame on Australian sport’s night of nights – the sold out 32nd Sport Australia Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala Dinner, held at Palladium at Crown, Melbourne – presented by Etihad Airways.
Established in 1985, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame plays a vital role in preserving and perpetuating Australia’s rich sporting heritage, whilst promoting the values of courage, sportsmanship, integrity, mateship, persistence, and excellence, all underpinned by generosity, modesty, pride and ambition.