March 17 (Reuters) - Australia’s surfing team have named themselves the Irukandjis after one of the deadliest species of jellyfish on the planet, as they seek to inject a bit of cold-blooded killer instinct into their preparations for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The team settled on the world's smallest jellyfish, a native to the country's northern waters, because the tiny creatures pack a "serious punch", Surfing Australia chief executive, Chris Mater said in a statement here on Wednesday.
The name Irukandji refers to several similar, extremely venomous species of box-jellyfish, which have an adult size of about a cubic centimetre, and actively hunt prey and fire stingers into their victims.
Even small amounts of Irukandji venom can cause agonising muscle cramps in humans and a host of other unpleasant symptoms, and in rare cases may even lead to cardiac arrest and death.
“I really wanted us to find an awesome name for the team that incorporated the Indigenous culture of Australia,” seven-times world champion and Australia surf team member Stephanie Gilmore said.
“Irukandji perfectly suits our team as we try our best to be deadly in the water against our rivals in the Tokyo Olympics.”
The jellyfish were named after Irukandji Country, along the northern coast of Cairns in Queensland, and Surfing Australia were given permission to use the name by the local Yirrganydji people.
“Our name and identity are powerful forces,” Surfing Australia Chair and seven-time world champion Layne Beachley said.
“As surfing enters the Olympics for the first time... it was time to give our Australian team an identity that we can all rally behind. The Irukandji’s sting in the water is ferocious and that is how our Australian surfers approach competition.” (Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge)