Pie-in-the-sky ambition for Australia Day
CRICKET has Don Bradman, basketball has Michael Jordan and Cairns' competitive pie-eating has Mark Sheehan.
"Shovel" Sheehan's unparalleled ability to scoff pies has seen him win back-to-back Cazalys Great Aussie Meat Pie Challenges and he will be going for a third crown when the Australia Day event kicks off at 11.30am.
Last year Sheehan bettered his 2011 record when he ate four competition-sized pies (about half the size of a large pie) in 32 seconds to claim the $1000 reward.
This year he aims to better that.
"I've been getting plenty of practice in at the dinner table," Mr Sheehan said.
"I try to train at least once a day."
His reluctant training partner, wife Jenny, confirmed this.
"I keep trying to get him to chew his food; he's finished his dinner before I'm even on the vegies," she said.
"But at least if he's going to eat like that he can win money that I can spend on shoes."
This year, Cazalys general manager Jason Salecich is expecting more interest than ever.
"In previous years we have had about 40 competitors, but we're expecting a lot of people to come and challenge Mark," Mr Salecich said.
They won't be the only ones celebrating Australia Day their own way. Brothers Sports Club will hold its own version of the Australia Day Awards, recognising the Best Dressed Bloke, Best Dressed Sheila and Best Aussie Yarn.
Bellavista at the Marina, Gilligan's and Salt House will get into the spirit with Hottest 100 parties, while Society Bar will have a sports trivia competition and PJ O'Brien's will have a beach-themed party that runs until 5am.
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In training: Mark Sheehan gets in some practice for a chance to win his third successive Cazalys Great Aussie Meat Pie Challenge on Australia Day. Picture: TOM LEE