A Brain Injury Put His Surfing Career In Question — Now He’s No. 1 In The World

He "pushed hard" and "confronted every fear" to get here.

One of the greatest sports comebacks occurred during a surfing tournament this weekend when Owen Wright, who suffered a serious brain injury in December 2015, took home the top prize.

The 27-year-old Aussie went up against best mate Matt Wilkinson after having not known what athletic future he had left and won. The final score at the World Surf League's Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks in Gold Coast was 14.66 to 13.50 against Wilkinson, the defending champion.


"I'm just so stoked," Wright said, according to Sports Illustrated. "To be in that final with Wilko, he's one of my best mates. We just had a great time. It went back and forth and turned out my way but I'm sure there's another one down the track that will turn out his way."

Wright noted that doctors put "question marks on the year" so, to get to where he is now after getting the all-clear, he "pushed hard and went hard and confronted every fear" even though he was venturing back into the very activity that put him in harm's way originally.

Wilkinson, who has been regular practice partners with Wright since the accident, said they had been joking about ending up in the finals together and that he was "competing against a bit more than the ocean out there" when that's exactly what came to pass.

"For him to be in this event was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen," Wilkinson said. "And to win it, I couldn't have asked for a better person to beat me. I obviously wanted to win but he has inspired so much over the last few months and last year, watching him go through everything he did was the hardest thing I've ever seen."

When Surfline asked Wright — who has a partner named Kita Alexander, a son named Vali, and a surfing champ sister named Tyler Wright — if he was happier to win or to just be back in the sport, Wright responded with the latter.

"Just to be back!" he said. "I can't really even comprehend the win, to be honest. I'm just so happy to be a part of all this again. I'm still trying to process just how awesome it is to be surfing once more. And now, back here with everyone, I'm loving life. Everything else is a bonus."

Cover image: Owen Wright / Instagram

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