Karla Gilbert's record speaks for itself. She has won back to back world Ironwoman championships (2000 and 2002), seven consecutive Ironwoman series wins (1996-2002), sixteen Australian championships, seven Queensland titles and numerous other championship events. There is absolutely no doubt of her dominance in the sport throughout the 1990s and early 2000's. Furthermore, through her involvement at the highest level, Gilbert has helped to raise public awreness of surf lifsaving in the community.
Gilbert entered the sport in 1980, when her parents joined her in the Nippers program at Palm Beach. She won her first attempt at a professional ironwoman event (the first even professional ironwoman race in Australia) ten years later in 1990. She was only fifteen years old.