Firefighter sets world record

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Two days before the world firefighting championships in the United States last month, Nelson firefighter Haydn Parker wasn’t sure if he’d be able to compete – by the end of the week he was a world champion.

Haydn was featured by Nelson Weekly back in April when he said his goal at the competition was to complete the course in under 1 minute, 40 seconds, which earns a membership to the exclusive ‘Lions Den’ club.

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Firefighter Haydn Parker with his medals from the World Firefighter Combat Challenge. Photo: Andrew Board.

After months of hard training, Haydn says he was feeling fit and confident. He arrived in Alabama a few days before the event, dubbed the “toughest two minutes of sport”, but during his first practice on the race course Haydn tore his hamstring and calf.

He says he called his family back in Nelson to tell them the bad news. “I just thought how I’d be letting so many people down so I tried to stay positive and do what I could to help my leg.”

By the time the heats rolled around Haydn’s leg was still holding him back, but he was able to compete. “During the individual finals I made a big mistake putting a hose into a box, because the hose jumped out. I had to go back and put it back in, when I finished I took my gear off and saw that my time was 1.39.20, so I reached my goal and got into Lions Den. I was so happy and relieved because I was far from my best.”

After the individual finals, Haydn then teamed up with four Americans to form a hybrid team, which completes the course as a relay. Haydn’s team went on to win that competition and set a new world record in the grade with a time of 1 minute, 11 seconds, making Haydn New Zealand’s first combat challenge world champion.

Haydn says it was an amazing feeling. “It was a really cool buzz, it’s such a big event. It’s such a tough event and you’re taking on the best from around the world.”

The challenge finals were televised live in the US on ESPN and Haydn says, despite his success, he has unfinished business. “Two days after I got back I said to my wife about going again, and she said ‘I knew this was coming’. I just feel I could do a lot better with my individual time and I know I can run a lot faster.”

Haydn says training for next year, where he wants to go under 1 minute 30 seconds, will start soon.

Haydn wanted to thank his sponsors Spark Digital and Nimbus, Crossfit Whakatu Eat Me Supplements, Ewing Poultry, Equilibrium, Richmond Aquatic Centre  and Nelson Pine Industries.