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Cross Country running and of course surfing, “My older brothers

SALLY FITZGIBBONS

and I competed at everything which is where I got my competitive instinct built into me. Eventually Soccer, Athletics and Surfing started to clash when I reached Australian representative levels

One With The Ocean And Living Her Passion BY DONNIE RUST

in all of them and it just came down to picking the sport that I felt would feed that Competitive hunger and passion I had of becoming a World Champion.” She explains how hard it was leaving her competitive running

A

behind after having a great result in the Youth Olympics where

lthough surfing has always been a sport, pastime and

she won Gold medals in the 800m and 1500m but she was drawn

lifestyle, playing a part in our social consciousness

to the challenge of surfing and focussed on that and the results

for decades it has enjoyed an unmatched growth in

speak for themselves.

participants and spectators over recent years thanks to the

And when it comes to preparation for an event?

connective power of the internet. Youtube has made heroes out

“My blue print for competing and preparation leading into

of the best of this sport and few have more gravity and presence than Australian surfer Sally Fitzgibbons. Beautiful, highly respected and demonstrating such a wealth of talent as to turn her competition green with envy Sally is not only a member of the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour but also an icon in her sport. Known for her infectious smile and forthcoming nature she is as known for her approach to health and fitness as well as her surfing and has played an important role in the lives of many young female surfers around the world seeking to emulate her.

The young surfer with the wonderful smile Growing up in the small beachside town of Gerroa in Australia, and being the youngest sister of three brothers Sally was introduced to surfing as a family predication, “I used to follow my Dad and my brothers to the beach and nagged them until they taught me how to surf.” Being six at the time it lends credence to the way Sally explains that surfing was simply a way of life in the small beach town and that nobody questioned getting the youngster onto a board. What did impress was the girl’s talent and she soon won her

“I put my prize money into buying a Jetski with my brother to help further my training. I was one happy grom that’s for sure.” Even at this young age, Sally demonstrated the warmth and sincerity that has made her such a likeable figure in the sport, “When climbing through the amateur ranks to get to that first professional win took a lot of events up and down the Australian east coast and my family travelled and supported me through it all.” Since then she has been competing on the ASP World Tour since the age of seventeen and is now in her sixth year on Tour. She has also been the world runner up three times now between 2010 and 2012. Notable wins have included the Prestigious Ripcurl Pro Bells Beach title; Back to back titles, Billabong Pro Brazil twice, US Open of Surfing, Roxy Pro France, the Subaroo Pro New Zealand and World Junior Title 2007. Sally is a natural footer, and credits her style to being able to adapt to whatever conditions are thrown her way, “I currently ride a 5’8” Firewire Surfboard for my general performance surfing and they have developed a Sally Fitzgibbons Pro model board that is very similar to this that the public can order.”

Beyond the surfer

first professional Junior (Under 21 Division) event when she

Sally attests to being an avid sports lover and enjoys Soccer,

fourteen, “I was absolutely over the moon,” she declares happily,

Touch Football, Basketball, Hockey, Athletics 800m and 1500m,

competition puts me in a great mind set leading into the event,” she explains, “I have a routine and just monitor how my body is feeling and weigh up what surf conditions we are expecting and go from there. You have to be flexible around events and adapt really quickly to changes or surf conditions that pop up.” Training is serious and involves surf sessions at all different times of the day to get used to the break she will be facing and then she prefers a wide variety of land based sessions. For cardio she runs, swims, bikes, boxes, skips and participates in strength work in the Gym. “I put in extras in around the main sessions depending on how the day is going, like yoga, stretching or skateboarding. I have really busy days which is something I’ve always enjoyed.” Complementing her very active lifestyle with a very basic diet, Sally reveals that a difficulty she faces is that she’s lactose intolerant and so has to adapt her diet around that, “It rules out a lot of the traditional treat and splurge foods but I love blueberries and really exotic fruits so I treat myself to them,” “Three meals a day with snacks and fruit and vegetables with quality proteins are my stables,” she continues, “Chicken soup is actually one of my favourites as is avocado on some nice fresh bread and I use eggs and Red Bull – although not necessarily together- for addition energy on the super long days when I’m bouncing from surfing to interviews and then to evening functions.”


Injuries is something that, as a professional athlete Sally has

other surfing industry support, Garnier, Samsung, Landrover

to navigate well, “I have had a few injuries other than the usual

and Firewire surfboards all contribute towards performance and

cuts and bruises associated with surfing coral reefs,” she tells

travel costs,” she says, “And I have great support from family and

us, “I broke my wrist at Fiji and more recently broke my finger

fans.”

and knuckle during a tow-in session on a jetski while training. Recovery time each occasion was about 6-8 weeks during my summer at home in the off season while was the most painful as I had to stay out of the water.”

Best Spots “There are so many amazing locations that I’ve had the opportunity to surf at,” she says, “But a few of my favourite trips have been to Fiji, Maldives and Mexico, they also provide great places to exercise.”

Promotion and social media. Surfing the net Time needs to be divied up between media promotion, training and surfing. The best athletes are notoriously those who are able to balance all three. Sally reveals that partner activities would involve around 60 days a year but she tries her best to combine them with surfing to ensure that she can train and continue to improve. This isn’t always possible but it’s always considered. “I quite like the challenges of working with and/or in media

Sally is often seen running and likes to make full use of the

and do regular radio, newspaper and TV interviews,” she adds,

landscape of the places she visits, “I really enjoy the challenge

“Last year Red Bull produced a biopic called Sally: Behind The

of adapting to a new place and using it to my advantage to keep

Smile which followed my year on the World Tour, the training,

thinking of different training sessions like sand hills, running trails

highs and lows of competing and a couple of special training

and beaches. It keeps my body limber and able to adapt. Which is

missions to Abu Dhabi Wave Pool and Nova Scotia.”

an important quality to have in the surf.”

Segments of the documentary can be seen on Youtube if you

And ensuring that Sally keeps to the very peak of her abilities

look up Sally Stories Season 2. She also gets to do a lot of radio

Red Bull provide coaching and support and whatever else she

and TV interviews as part of her partner commitments and as a

many need to improve herself as an athlete, “Roxy provides

follow up to event wins, “One of my favourite things to do is co-


hosting Channel 9’s Wide World Of Sports and being a guest on other sports panel shows like the Footy Show, Back Page on Fox and Morning talk shows.”

Something that all of her fans will no doubt be looking out for. Also, there are a number of things that are very close to the surfer’s heart, “I’ll continue to support great Charity events like

Sally admits that social media has definitely crept into her

Run Wollongong for the Children’s Hospital and the Play Safe..

life without even really realising it and what started as a way

Stay Safe Campaign for the NSW Police Department, Tackling

to simply communicate and share with her friends and fans has

Binge Drinking. These type of commitments I really find rewarding

become an essential part of her professional career, “I don’t go

and believe in.”

overboard with it but I try and post a couple of times a day on

As far as Performance Projects with her amazing partner Red

something special I may have done or encountered,” she says,

Bull go, Sally says that we’ll all have to wait and see, as many of

“It’s fun hearing from fans and being able to writing back and it’s

these are top secret and very exiting. As if her fans needed a

amazing to have such great support where ever I am in the world.”

reason to be glued to her Twitter feed or her Sally Stories Series on Youtube!

And what is the queen of the waves planning for the future? Sally is looking forward to the inclusion of more and more Amazing World class waves as events on the ASP Women’s World Tour. This is important as it will continue to raise the performance level of all the girls and continually evolve the sport. She adds that there are some fantastic inclusions for this year’s Tour including Fiji, Trestles and Honolua Bay in Hawaii. “On the waves I have been working on my aerial game for a while now and I am hoping that I can land them consistently enough to do them in competition very soon,” she reveals.

Find Sally online: www.sallyfitzgibbons.com www.twitter.com/Sally_Fitz www.instagram.com/Sally_Fitz www.facebook.com/SallyFitzgibbons1

One with the Ocean and living her passion  

The Story of Sally Fitzgibbons