Jett Kenny set to power ahead of super dad Grant
GRANT Kenny could be forgiven for feeling under pressure during the Queensland Surf Life Saving Championships this weekend.
When the ironman legend looks at his rivals on the starting line, there's every chance he'll see a familiar face grinning back at him.
At 20 years of age, Jett Kenny might not be the household name his dad became but Grant is the first to admit the young bloke has well and truly got his measure.
"He's very fast. It's not really a fair competition," said the man who dominated ironman competition in the 1980s.
"He's miles in front of me, although I did manage to beat him in a double ski race one time.
"He and his partner were hit by another ski and came off, but I'll take whatever I can get."
Now 51, Kenny is still going strong but says his son has more natural ability than he ever had.
It's a big call from the man who made headlines in 1980 when, as a 16-year-old, he won both the Australian Junior and Open Iron Man Championship on the same day.
He then won the Australian Open Ironman Title for the following three years.
While an ironman clash is off the cards this weekend, they may meet in double and single ski races where Kenny admits he will probably be left in Jett's wake.
"I don't think he realises just how good he is and how good he could be," he said.
"There's not a carnival goes by that someone prominent - someone who knows what they're talking about - doesn't come up to me and comment on how fast he is."
Someone once asked my dad (ironman legend Hayden Kenny) years ago if I'd ever beaten him and his reply was 'no, because I retired before he could'.
"Maybe I should have done that."
Kenny says he and his ex-wife - former Olympian Lisa Curry - never put any pressure on Jett to follow in their footsteps.
"I'm very proud of him but I prefer to look at him as his own person.
"He and I are a bit different. To be honest, I think he has a lot more natural ability than I ever did.
"But I don't think he's ever been as driven as I was. That's not a criticism; just an observation.
""I hope that wherever he finishes meets his expectations and if his best is, hypothetically, making the semi-finals at state or Aussies, and he's happy with that, then I'm happy with that.
"I don't have any expectations or put any pressure on him."
Kenny admits his attitude has changed over the years.
"There was a time when I absolutely always wanted to see him do really well. He's my boy and I could see the potential and the skills he had.
"At the same time he was playing soccer, which he also did very well.
"I asked him what he wanted to do and he said 'go to Europe and play soccer'.
"My initial reaction was disappointment but, from a career perspective it would be a smart thing for him to do.
"He's talked about moving to Europe and working as a lifeguard while getting involved in soccer at a local level to see how he goes.
"People try to pigeonhole others and say 'I'm going to make you an ironman' but not everyone is an ironman.
"What's important is to find something you enjoy and do it to your best ability."
Footnote: He may not have his son's measure any more but Grant Kenny yesterday proved he still had what it takes.
Competing in the 50-54 Years division he won the ironman, surf swim and board race.
He was second in the ski race behind clubmate Jeff Lemarseny, then combined with Lemarseny to win the double ski.