Emma Dieters wins ISA World Para Surfing Championship

Nearly two years after a surgery that up-ended her life, Emma is on top of the world

Amanda Shalala's picture
By Amanda Shalala
Photo: ISA/Pablo Franco

Emma Dieters wins ISA World Para Surfing Championship

Amanda Shalala
Form Guide

Nearly two years after a surgery that up-ended her life, Emma Dieters is on top of the world. 

The 40-year-old from Sydney's Northern Beaches has won the women's prone 2 division at the World Para Surfing Championships in Pismo Beach, California.

"I cant even believe that's happened. It's a surreal feeling, I'm really stoked," she said.

"I wanted to do it for my kids, my family, everyone that's got me here. It's been amazing."

From surgery setback to surfing again

Dieters had suffered from bad neck pain due to a bulging disc for years.

In February 2021, she decided to undertake a spinal fusion surgery to help her become more mobile, and pain free. 

But the surgery went wrong, and she became an incomplete quadriplegic at the C4 level. 

She spent five months in hospital and rehabilitation and when she emerged she was determined to return to surfing.

With encouragement from fellow para surfer Sam Bloom, Dieters entered her first adaptive competition in August, and finished second in the Australian Surf Championships. 

Dieters was the stand-out surfer in the final (photo: Sean Evans)

And she went one better on the biggest stage of all, producing two high-scoring waves of 8.33 and 8.93 in the final in California. 

Dieters' two children were watching on, and her husband was her support person in the water. 

"I've got champions who are right by my side, helping me, giving me direction and just want to thank them for all the encouragement and support and just the good vibe with the crew here," she said.

Neumueller makes it one-two for Australia

Fellow Australian and reigning world champion Jocelyn Neumueller claimed the silver medal. 

Jocelyn Neumueller is also a Paralympian (Photo: Sean Evans)

Neumueller represented Australia in para-canoe at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, and won gold at the 2017 ICF World Sprint Word Championships.

Soon after that victory, she paralysed her left arm during a training session, and she switched to surfing for her recovery. 

Dieters paid tribute to her teammate.

"She's a great competitor, she did an amazing job out there," she said.

"We always have good little battles, it helps to push us get better and better each time we're out in the water."

© Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


Major kong's picture
Major kong's picture
Major kong Sunday, 11 Dec 2022 at 6:11am

Fucking epic!!!

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Sunday, 11 Dec 2022 at 10:10am

Legendary. Awesome stuff. Congratulations girls.

linez's picture
linez's picture
linez Sunday, 11 Dec 2022 at 11:32am

That is so, so good to wake up to. Huge congratulations... stellar effort all round

mrkook's picture
mrkook's picture
mrkook Sunday, 11 Dec 2022 at 1:46pm

Representing!! Proud to be Australian!

what_up's picture
what_up's picture
what_up Sunday, 11 Dec 2022 at 1:58pm

Man these guys are absolute legends, talk about true grit in the face of adversary.. everyone could take a leaf from their book including me!! Now this story is something that makes me proud to be Australian. Well done.

Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams Sunday, 11 Dec 2022 at 8:23pm

Big ups to all who sacrifice allot of their time to spread some stoke. Can't happen or get off the ground with out you. Killer effort all round. heard an update on abc sports radio and could hear how much it meant to the lady speaking. Rad stuff and good vibes to all involved.