In December of 2015, Owen Wright’s terrifying head injury at Pipeline sidelined him for the entirety of the 2016 ‘CT season and threw into serious doubt his surfing future. On Sunday, 15 months later, Owen Wright beat Matt Wilkinson in the final of the Quik Pro Gold Coast in one of the most inspiring turn-arounds in surfing history. Below are Owen’s interview responses to the WSL commentating crew just minutes after his first career win at Snapper Rocks.
How it felt to compete against Wilko in the final:
It’s unreal. I’m stoked that I won, but I wouldn’t rather have another person in the final with me. Wilko’s been with me the whole way through that injury. He’s been with me here every step of the way. And we both ended in the final. I’m so stoked. He’s one of my best mates. We had a great time going back and forth in our heat, and it just turned out my way. But I’m sure there’s another one that’s going to turn out his way.
On his return to competitive surfing:
I think it was the start of February, I was sitting in the doctor’s office, and there were question marks for the year, to be here right now. We pushed hard and went hard. I confronted every fear of getting back into it; there were a lot of fears to push through to get back in the sport and back into what took me out, and what could have taken me out forever. I kept going and kept doing it, and I got back in this event.
I couldn’t have done it without all the support of my friends and family, and my partner [Kita Alexander] and my little baby boy. We just kept going and the team kept breaking it down so I could get back out there. Because this is what I love. This is what I love doing.
On dad strength:
[Laughs] Dad strength just coming from nowhere. The second that baby got here, It was dad power.
On where he dedicates the success to:
All the love and support that came my way from my friends and family since I had the injury. Wilko’s one of them – he’s been there for me all the way. All the guys one Tour, all the support from the greatest people in the surfing community. From my partner and little son. It’s just been an awesome event. I think that love and support is definitely why I’m standing here.
On surfing against some of his best friends in the later rounds:
I loved that I got to surf against two of my best mates. I came out on top, but to have those heats [with Mick and Wilko], it relaxed me a little bit. I felt more comfortable against them for some reason. It’s not a good thing for Matt or Mick [Laughs], but it just felt nice to be out there with friends, out doing the sport I love.
On feeling the energy coming from the surf community:
I felt such a beautiful energy coming my way at this event. I’d like to thank everyone who’s texted me, written to me, called me, being there for me the whole time. It was massive. It definitely pulled me through what was a really tough year. There were so many bright lights at the end of that tunnel, and now to be standing here on the podium, all I can say is: thanks for all the love and support, guys.
On the thought of winning a world title:
Before the event started, I thought that I was good enough to make a start. And I made a start [Laughs]. I surfed my first heat, and actually made it and did well. I thought to myself, ‘You have to start thinking about why you’re here, and you gotta do this thing and do it well.’ All of those thoughts started coming back. Now I”m standing on the podium with one of my best mates, and we’re starting the year with a clean slate and a win.
[Title Photo: Joli]