Bundaberg Bears roar in two sports
A BEAR has long been synonymous with Bundaberg - probably most commonly known as the symbol of a world famous local alcohol drop.
But the animal is also attached to the names of two of Bundaberg's teams which did most to bring sporting glory to the city in 2011.
The Bundaberg Radiology Bears were magnificent despite falling at the last hurdle in the Queensland Basketball League women's division, while the rugby league senior Bears claimed a second famous victory in the 47th Battalion Memorial Trophy Carnival.
The basketball Bears, who had been perennial poor cousins of the city's men's basketball team, the Bulls, flourished while the Bulls' season which started full of hope, never got on track.
After finishing third on the ladder under new coach Dean Page, the Bears booked their place in the grand final with wins over Gold Coast Rollers 87-71 and Mackay Meteors 96-88 but after then leading Gladstone Port City Power 54-46 at half-time, they were overwhelmed 110-97 in the final.
"At the end of the day, we were 13 points away from being champions and it is now about winning it," Page said.
Shaun Collins and Matt Templeman wreaked havoc as Bundaberg routed Rockhampton 58-8 in the 47th Battalion final at Salter Oval.
The under-14 Bears had won their division of the 47th Battalion Junior Carnival two weeks earlier.
But the Bundaberg Spirit teams continued to struggle in both the Football Queensland State League and the Southern Division Youth League.
Their senior side won just one match in 2011 but a penultimate round get-out-of-jail draw with Capricorn Cougars was enough for them to finish second last - albeit on goal difference - and avoid the wooden spoon for the first time in their four-year history.
Many top players' unwillingness to play representative cricket was a major factor as multiple Goodchild Trophy champions Bundaberg remained in the wilderness, failing to qualify for the final of the competition in both the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.
Despite brave performances from captain James Courtice, Bundaberg was beaten by Gladstone in both their annual rugby home and away challenge games.
Despite the floods at home at the time, it was the start of a red letter year for the Bundaberg Sailing Club when skipper Bruce Potter and his crew of club Commodore Matthew Caldwell won the 5.8m division of the NACRA Catamaran National.
They also made it back-to-back state titles later in the year.
The Bundaberg Race Club also finished the year on a high with four highly successful meetings after having its licence suspended by Racing Queensland in March in the midst of a financial crisis.
Bundaberg was the most successful of the three local clubs at the Surf Life Saving Wide Bay Capricorn Branch Junior Championships, with dynamic all-rounder Jacob O'Shea heading a galaxy of stars by achieving an under-13 male clean sweep.
O'Shea went on to win state silver and bronze, while the club also finished second at the branch senior titles with Moore Park third, and picked up four state rescue title silvers and one bronze.
The Bundaberg Flames were on fire at the Netball Queensland Challenge Carnival in Townsville, winning two titles and finishing runner-up in another.
Possibly the most notable achievement in Bundaberg and District Secondary Schools Sport was Shalom College's 19th straight victory in the Rowing Head of the River Championships.
The second Cane 2 Coral Run/Walk over 15km and 8km from Bundaberg to Bargara was marred by the tragic death of community identity Rod Young, who suffered a heart attack during the run.
But Canberra training mates Erwin McRae and Scott McTaggart claimed the quinella in what was still an outstanding event with almost 3000 participants.