Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Surfers Honour Champion Irons

Newspaper article The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Australia)

Surfers Honour Champion Irons

Article excerpt

SURFING: Kelly Slater claims the Rip Curl Pro in Puerto Rico should go ahead as a way of honouring the memory of his greatest surfing rival Andy Irons.

Irons was found dead in a Dallas hotel room two days after withdrawing from the event with severe illness, thought to be dengue fever.

On the verge of winning a 10th world championship, Slater admitted his own personal goals had been put in perspective by the tragedy, but announced his determination to get back in the water Co because that's what Irons would have wanted.

"That's the kind of guy Andy was; he wanted to see his friends doing good ... and he'd expect nothing less from the people around him," Slater said.

"I'm fine to compete. Everyone's going through a little shock. We'll need to obviously take a little time to process that and just remember Andy and go through all the thoughts you do when someone leaves you.

"It makes the contest seem very insignificant for sure; the world title seems insignificant. You'd much rather have that person back than all that stuff."

Police are investigating whether drugs were involved in Irons's death after several types of prescription medication were found in the Dallas hotel in which he died.

A Texas county medical examiner on Wednesday ruled out trauma and foul play in his death, and said the cause may not be known for weeks.

A paddle out at Middles Beach in Puerto Rico was held in tribute to Irons, with more than 200 surfers, friends and support staff taking part.

The Hawaiian won three consecutive world titles between 2002-2004 at a time when Slater was at his peak, and the two champions shared a long and sometimes heated rivalry.

Irons' struggles with inner demons have been well documented, but Slater revealed the 32-year-old had been happy, and described the respect the pair had for one another despite their legendary battles.

- AAP

WHAT THEY SAID

"There's no words to cover what happened, there's nothing you can say that's going to make it feel better you know. …

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