This past July, 24-year-old Australian Stephanie Gilmore clinched her fifth world title when she won the Roxy Pro Biarritz, the penultimate ASP event of the year. The victory signaled a comeback. Gilmore won the world title every year from 2007 to 2010, but lost her crown in 2011. In December of 2010, she was the victim of a brutal attack outside her Coolangatta, New South Wales, apartment that left her with a cut on the back of her head and a broken wrist. She was out of the water for eight weeks, but it took her a bit longer to recover mentally and emotionally. Early in 2012, one brief moment inspired her to go after the world title with everything she had. We called her up to talk about that moment, and whether she thinks she can eclipse the all-time ASP title records held by Layne Beachley and Kelly Slater.
What was the difference between this year and last year?
It was a pretty big transition year for me. I had a lot going on. I got injured. I changed sponsorships. My heart wasn’t 100 percent in it. I think there were a lot of factors. Last year was the first year I didn’t win the title, and to actually experience that, and to experience not having the spotlight on me, as egotistical as that sounds, was pretty heartbreaking. So this year I came out and wanted to surf really strong, and have that confidence back. It took a little bit of time, but I feel like I just had a different frame of mind. I wanted it pretty badly.
You mentioned the injury from the attack in Coolangatta. Was there a mental element to recovering from that?
Yeah, I mean, physically the human body will heal as quick as it can if you’re doing everything right, but it was sort of the emotional journey that was the hardest. I think that even still, I mean, I’ll probably forever, at some level, have to try and get over the attack. I think that it’s part of the journey. It’s embracing it and moving on. But, yeah, I do think that last year there was a lot more of an emotional sort of torrent that I was trying to work my way through, and then compete at the same time. It was probably the biggest hurdle that I had to get over and it was probably why winning the world title back this year was just so much more rewarding than the first one.