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I started surfing at Manly Beach when I was 4 years old. My dad was a surfer and remains an acting member of the Manly Life Saving Club, my older brother Jason surfs as well. By the time I was 5 years-old I was paddling out the back and challenging the boys for waves on my ‘foamie’. I graduated to a fibreglass board when I was 14 and joined the ASP world tour at 17, once I completed high school.
I fell in love with the sun, sand and surf before I learned to walk! I experience joy, freedom and a sense of belonging when I immerse myself in the ocean. Surfing keeps my mind, body and soul relaxed. I’m happiest when I am in the water and enjoy how balanced and happy I feel after every surf.
My mum died when I was 6 which was devastating, then dad informed me about my adoption when I was 8. This actually inspired me to want to become a world champion, to prove to the world that I am deserving of love. Chasing big waves and world titles resulted in many serious injuries such as a severe disk herniation in my neck and a crushed lumbar spine, fractured ribs, 10 stitches in my face and torn ligaments in both my knees, to name just a few. I suffered 2 bouts of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which was physically, mentally and emotionally debilitating. I lost my step mother to breast cancer when I was 30 and lost my biological mother to ovarian cancer when I was 45. All of these challenges have inspired me to have an attitude of gratitude, prioritise my health and wellbeing and commit to doing something I love every single day. Life is short so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Learning to surf at Manly Beach taught me the importance of knowing what I want and to stand up for what I believe in. The boys gave me a hard time but there were many who were supportive and encouraging. I quickly learned to surround myself with the positive guys and ignore the mean negative ones. Sometimes it was all too much and I came in crying but I went back out the next day and gave it another go. We become the sum of the top 5 people we spend the most amount of time with so I choose my friends wisely.
Absolutely. I was riddled with self-doubt when I was younger which often prevented me from achieving my goals. A willingness to fail, consistently challenging myself and spending quality time with quality people who believed in me more than I believed in myself enabled me to overcome these challenges and taught me to choose a more positive mindset. Choice, not Chance, determines our destiny.
Sport was an important part of my childhood. I played many different sports such as cricket, tennis, soccer, basketball and surfing at school. I loved building cubby houses, skateboarding and climbing trees. I surfed across our backyard pool in my school uniform every morning before school. I attended tennis camps in school holidays. I played Toto from the Wizard of Oz in the school play in year 8 of high school because I was the smallest kid in high school for my first two years.
Upon reflection, I realise my sense of worthiness and identity was wrapped up in becoming a world champion, however I always wanted to become the best of the best. The determination to win 6 world titles was fuelled by fear and necessity, while my 7th and 8th world titles were achieved through inspiration, gratitude, grace and love. I learned to succeed in a more sustainable and enjoyable way. This requires a lot of trust!
My 7th world title proved to me that I can succeed in a sustainable and fun way. The first world title was special and a memorable achievement, but from then it became a matter of necessity which eliminated a lot of the fun. After recuperating from my severe neck injury post my 6th world title victory, and surfing without physical pain for the first time in 5 years, competing for my 7th world title was an absolute joy instead of a job.
50-foot! It was one of the most adrenaline filled moments of my life!
Success is determined by your unique personal definition. You may define it as becoming a world champion athlete, a parent, a CEO or fulfilling a life long goal. No matter how you define it, only you can determine what success is. The key is Clarity!
Writing goals down increases the likelihood of achieving them so I had my goals and positive affirmations stuck to my bedroom mirrors as daily reminders. I surrounded myself with people who were better than me, who held me accountable, ensuring my daily actions were edging me closer to my goals. Sometimes I sabotaged myself and had to rely on my support crew to get me back on track. Stop dreaming and start doing! Action is the antidote to fear.
Making the decision to retire was relatively easy but it was the biggest leap I have ever made. It was simple as asking myself this question. “Am I willing to do the work? Honestly…. No”. After 19 years on tour, my passion for competition was waning and my attention was distracted by life outside of surfing. It took me several years to adapt to the change and this seems to be a consistent theme in most people I speak to who have retired after holding down a position or role for a long period of time.
We set the standards by what we allow. I have high personal standards and I am governed by my values which I refuse to compromise on. Authenticity, Health and Well being, Growth and Giving back are my guiding principles. A daily mantra and Gratitude practice keeps me positive and doing something I love every day, such as surfing, keeps me motivated and inspired.
Women hold up half the sky, yet we fail to receive half of the opportunities advanced to men. I believe the majority of women don’t believe they can achieve greatness until they see another woman go before her. Fortunately, there are female pioneers, trailblazers and renegades who shatter this belief and pave the way for future generations of female leaders to follow. The world needs us now more than ever and I am committed to empowering and supporting women to lean in and step up to achieve greatness.
Surfing, napping, reading, meaningful conversations, travel, learning and sharing time with loved ones and being immersed in nature all fill my cup… and boost my energy.
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