Owen Wright completes fairytale comeback with win at Quiksilver Pro

Anthony Pancia
Form Guide

Owen Wright showed good form to eliminate Mick Fanning from competition at Snapper Rocks (Source: WSL/Sloane)

Owen Wright has completed a fairytale comeback from a serious brain injury, winning the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks. Wright won the final over good mate Matt Wilkinson, who he credited for looking out for him while recuperating throughout 2016.

"I couldn't have done it without all the support of my friends, family, partner and my little baby boy," an emotional Wright said straight after the win.

"I'm just so stoked to be here after spending a whole year out and to be in the final with my best mate.

"He's been there the whole time and coming up and visiting me the whole year."

Stephanie Gilmore notched up her sixth finals win at Snapper Rocks today (Source: WSL/Sloane)

Earlier, Stephanie Gilmore served notice she is set on a seventh world title after winning the women's final.

The win is the 25th of Gilmore's professional career and the sixth time the 29-year-old has won the event, her first coming during her maiden year on tour in 2010.

She said it had been a long road back to good form after a lacklustre 2016 in which she battled injury but was thrilled to win again at her home break.

"It feels so good that I can't believe it," Gilmore said moments after the win.

"I'm so happy to have all the support, there's no better feeling than winning here."

Gilmore earlier defeated fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons and said while a world title was a long way off, winning at Snapper Rocks augured well for her.

"The stats are pretty good when you win here, well see what happens but I would love to win another title."


© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 Mar 2017 at 4:51pm

Good on ya Owen.. ripping the whole event.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Sunday, 19 Mar 2017 at 4:57pm

Anyone see that wave that Steph belted the Christ out of for a 10.
Holy smokes that was impressive

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Sunday, 19 Mar 2017 at 8:38pm

Absolutely amazing surfing! That wave was super critical and perfect timing and commitment.

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Sunday, 19 Mar 2017 at 5:00pm

Last wave on this lil' clip I think. 

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Sunday, 19 Mar 2017 at 8:37pm

Bloody unreal...what a story...best turn of events for the WSL in awhile.
The women were ripping another notch up again from last year.

Fleazool's picture
Fleazool's picture
Fleazool commented Sunday, 19 Mar 2017 at 8:44pm

So good to see the big O picking up right where he left off. At the top of his game.
The queen of snapper reclaiming her throne too. That 10 was insane.

mundies's picture
mundies's picture
mundies commented Monday, 20 Mar 2017 at 4:55pm

I work in brain injury rehab. From looking at the initial injury info I thought there was a pretty good chance he wouldn't return to pro surfing. Therein lies the beauty of the neuroplastic brain as well as the champion psyche.


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shane-peel commented Thursday, 23 Mar 2017 at 12:53am

Mundies I am super curious about the injury and the down time mainly because it was SUCH a stunning return and the little research I have done did not turn up much. Give us the full spiel on this type of injury, what normally causes it, what it does to ya, how it's repaired, what's involved in that type of rehab, if anyone has ever returned like this before. I know Owen is no stranger to rehabing an injury having had major back problems ever since he was a junior does this make him kinda pre-conditioned for a better recovery? Come on mate give us the full download.

mundies's picture
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mundies commented Thursday, 23 Mar 2017 at 2:35pm

Shane-peel, usually the indicators or predictors of severity of TBI (traumatic brain injury) are the GCS:

and also duration of PTA (post traumatic injury):

There are other indicators as well but these are the common ones.

GCS & PTA testing is usually part of the acute hospital admission process all the way through to the inpatient rehab stay. Theoretically if someone is in PTA they need to be in a brain injury rehab unit, which is a locked ward. Someone in PTA does not have the ability to lay down new memories so they are literally in la la land and potentially a danger to themselves and others.
I never saw any of this info about Owen of course as this is part of confidential hospital records, however I read that he had bleeding on the brain, needed full time care, had severe memory loss, emotional lability (i.e. the frontal lobes are not regulating emotions so a lot of swinging between extremes of emotion), and was out of the water for quite a few months. This is all suggestive of a very severe TBI.
I imagine, given that he probably hit his head on the reef at a fair velocity, he had something like what is called a coup-contrecoup type of injury:
The head stops quickly and the brain (about the consistency and firmness of warm butter) bounces around inside the skull, causing injury and bleeding on the brain often on both sides of it (i.e. the 'coup' & the 'countercoup'). A secondary mechanism of injury is then the subsequent swelling which can deprive other parts of the brain of oxygenated blood - this is a primary reason why it is so critical to get medical care as quickly as possible. Sometimes the skull needs to be drilled into to relieve the pressure.
Car accidents are usually forward-backward coup contrecoup type injuries - in this case the frontal lobe is damaged. it is possible to have a sideways coup countercoup injury also (plus other types of TBI e.g. gun shot to the head which is classified as a open head injury, a coup countrecoup injury is a closed head injury because the skull is not penetrated).
Emotional lability is often a sign that there is frontal lobe damage. Picture the brain as an orchestra with all the different parts playing different instruments (i.e. having different functions, such as processing sound and sight, motor function, tactile sensory perception, emotional responses etc), and then the frontal lobes are the conductor of the orchestra. Without the conductor doing its job properly the music is chaotic.
The rehab process is a long road. It starts in hospital and continues in the community and often takes years. Which is why I am very pleasantly surprised to see him excel only 16 months post-injury. In my experience the big factors that make a difference with rehab trajectory is firstly type and severity of injury, secondly social support (and it seems Owen has been very well supported by his inner circle and beyond), thirdly environment (which would include treatment and rehab) and fourth is psychological make up. The man is clearly a champion and this psych profile would have helped a lot.
In terms of 'how its repaired' - you are never the same again after a significant TBI, but because neuroplasticity is a thing, it has now been demonstrated that the brain can change itself and does this all the time whether you want it to or not. The challenge and skill set is in getting it to change in ways that are beneficial to you, not detrimental.
I could go into it a lot more but now I've gotta go do some work. Hope that gives you a bit of TBI education and enlightenment Shane.


budfudlucker's picture
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budfudlucker commented Thursday, 23 Mar 2017 at 9:39am

Fantastic win for Owen , surfed great and deserved the fairy tale ending. But even with such a great result how the fuck did Wilko get an 8 for his second scoring wave and JJF a 6 in the semi?. These guys all rip but that sort of sham takes a shine off Pro surfing .

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