Champion ironman Mercer farewelled on GC

Ed Jackson
Approximately 2000 people have attended a memorial service for Ironman champion Dean Mercer

For all the areas where champion ironman Dean Mercer excelled, it was his role as a father which his widow believes he'll be remembered most for.

The 47-year-old was farewelled in front of a huge crowd of mourners on the Gold Coast on Friday, two weeks after his sudden death from heart attack.

A two-time national ironman champion Mercer, alongside his brother Darren, became a household name for his exploits in the surf lifesaving arena in the 1980s and 90s.

But for all his sporting exploits, Mercer's wife Reen told the gathered collection of family, friends, former competitors and surf lifesaving clubmates, his four sons were his greatest achievement.

"He gave me four beautiful, amazing, kind boys ... I'm so grateful to him for them," she said.

"Of all the things we'll miss, the one that will be missed the most is the look on our boys' faces when he came home.

"Family was always his number one priority."

Reen told the crowd Dean's "huge heart" was what he was known for and it was "ironic, yet somehow fitting" that when that heart stopped, so did his life.

Olympians Brooke Hanson and Ky Hurst were among the crowd at the Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre, while swimming legend Dawn Fraser provided a written tribute which was read out in the service.

Dozens of past and present stars of the surf lifesaving community also attended including Hayley Bateup, Guy Leech and Courtney Hancock.

A video tribute of Mercer's ironman career, including his iconic 1995 national championship win on the finish line ahead of Trevor Hendy, highlighted the athlete who gave his all with a trademark cheeky smile.

An oar presented to Mercer when he was inducted into the ironman hall of fame lay in front of his flower-topped coffin, which was carried from the venue by his brother, father John, uncle Jeff, eldest son Brayden as well as friends Trent Morgan and Adam Moate.

The coffin was led down steps flanked by various surf lifesaving club flags in a guard of honour - a final salute to a man who made the sport his own.