Aussie surfer Owen Wright moves closer to the sport’s first Olympic gold medal — five years after a brutal extermination on a 15-foot wave left him with a brain haemorrhage and was unable to WALK
- Australian surfer Owen Wright on the brink of claiming first-ever Olympics gold
- The 31-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury and was swept away on a 15-foot wave
- He had a brain haemorrhage that led to amnesia and couldn’t surf anymore
- Wright came back to win first even in 2017, leading Aus in Tokyo
Australian surfer Owen Wright is on the cusp of claiming the sport’s first-ever gold medal in the Olympics — just years after a traumatic brain injury seemed to not only end his career, but would never see him surf again.
The 31-year-old from Culburra on the south coast of New South Wales has qualified for the surfing semi-finals at the Tokyo Games, the sport’s first part of the world’s biggest event.
The achievement is all the more valuable to Wright, who suffered a brain injury leading up to the 2015 Pipeline Masters event on Hawaii’s north coast and could “barely walk the length of my house.”
Wright suffered a brain haemorrhage as a result of being wiped out on a 15-foot monstrous wave, leading to amnesia and requiring full-time care.
The following year, he posted an emotional Instagram post revealing that he had gotten back into the water for the first time but was unable to get up – reportedly suffering from extreme dizziness.
‘I went surfing for the first time a few days ago. It was the funniest thing in the world. The funny thing is… I couldn’t get up. So I just lay there,” he captioned the photo in 2016.
Aussie Owen Wright is on the cusp of winning the first-ever gold medal for surfing at the Olympics (pictured with wife and singer Kita Alexander)
Wright suffered a brain injury leading up to the 2015 Pipeline Masters event on Hawaii’s north coast and could ‘barely walk the length of my house’
The 31-year-old from Culburra on the south coast of New South Wales has made it to the surfing semi-finals at the Tokyo Games, the sport’s first appearance
“It was about knee high and the fall was… well there wasn’t one, but it felt like I was falling into 10ft Teahupoo.
“I finished the wave and I was so excited I let out a hoot and claimed it and gave Kita (his wife) a high five.”
Wright, who is currently fifth in the WSL world title rankings, is known for his powerful goofy style, navigating big barrels and crafting insane aerials.
He is married to Australian singer Kita Alexander and the couple have two young children.
He won his first even back after injury, the 2017 Ripcurl Pro at Snapper Rocks, beating best mate Matt Wilkinson in the final.
The “long way back” was complete, but according to Wright, memories of the incident are still “blurred.”
“A wave landed on my head and it shook me so hard I just lost my mind. It was a long way back from there,” he told the BBC ahead of the Olympics.
Wright posted an emotional Instagram post a year after the incident, revealing that he got back into the water for the first time but couldn’t get up.
The 31-year-old is married to Australian singer Kita Alexander and the couple have two young children.
Wright has so far knocked out French barrel king Jeremy Flores and Lucca Mesinas of Peru and will face Brazilian star Italo Ferreira in the semi-finals
‘It was explained to me that it’s all still there, you just have to reconnect those brain patterns.’
He paid tribute to his family and friends for helping him through to become the lead surfer for Australia’s first Olympic team.
“If you ask my friends and family, I tried surfing all the time. They had to take my surfboards from me. I could barely walk the whole house, but I was still trying to go surfing,’ he said.
Wright has so far knocked out French barrel kings Jeremy Flores and Lucca Mesinas of Peru and will face Brazilian star Italo Ferreira in the semifinals, who so far produced the competition’s ride with a 9.7 in his quarter.
The winner will likely face the world’s best surfer, two-time WSL champion Gabriel Medina, who has made it to his semi-final in the final.
Wright, currently fifth in the WSL world title rankings, is known for his powerful goofy style, navigating big barrels and crafting insane aerials