FORMER Kawana ironman Zane Holmes has announced his retirement from competition after one of the most illustrious careers in the sport's history.
The 31-year-old, the only man in history to win the world championship, Australian championship, Nutri-Grain series and the Coolangatta Gold, had hoped to continue competing this summer but was forced to hang up his cap because of chronic back problems.
Mooloolaba ironman and last year's series runner up, Ali Day, said the man known as "Zapper" would be remembered as one of the fiercest competitors to hit the water.
"It's pretty sad, actually. I think it's fair to say he has the respect of the entire lifesaving community," Day said.
"I wanted to be him when I was a kid. At an Aussies when I was about 15, I remember I was getting my board screwed and Zane was getting his board done next to me.
"I went back down to start my race and I was telling all the boys that he was standing next to me.
"Now we have become good mates and it is such an honour to have competed with him in his last race at Noosa and to have finished second to him at Newcastle last year. He is just a great competitor."
Holmes began and finished his career with Northcliffe, on the Gold Coast.
However, he spent a large part of his time at Kawana Waters.
It was in the Kawana cap that he produced one of the most memorable moments in Australian lifesaving, when he powered through the shallows to pass Luke Richmond and claim the 2004 open ironman title, which he dedicated to his late father.
As a competitor, Holmes possessed a lethal combination of unbelievable skill in the surf and sheer guts and determination.
He won the Nutri-Grain series five times.
"I think he will be really missed by everyone," Day said.
"It will be a bit different to turn up to races and not have him competing."
There is no doubt Holmes will be missed by his rivals, but you can imagine there will be a few relieved faces when he is not on the start line this summer.
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