Aussie surfers light on desire
Australian surfers have the talent, but not enough burning hunger to reclaim the world title, retiring tour professional Mark Occhilupo said yesterday.
After a world tour career spanning 22 years, and as Australia's last world champion, few are more qualified to comment on the surfing-mad nation's lack of title success in recent years.
Yesterday the 38-year-old said although Australia boasted tremendous surfing talent, current hopefuls lacked the necessary desire to wrest the title from American three-time world champion Andy Irons.
Despite it's great depth in numbers on the men's world championship tour, the Australians have won only one title in the past 13 years as American great Kelly Slater also dominated.
"Isn't it crazy that we haven't had a world champion since 1999," said Occhilupo, who yesterday confirmed he would quit professional surfing at the end of the 2005 world championship tour.
"I think there are heaps of (Australian) guys that can win. Joel Parkinson is a great one, Taj Burrow, Luke Egan, Mick Fanning they are all up there.
"(But) I think one of the biggest things is they are not hungry enough. It takes such a committed year to win the world title. You just can't be half hearted."
Occhilupo said he wanted to spend his final season encouraging and helping those countrymen on the brink of breaking through.
"I am stoked to be able to help these guys. I want to egg them on. I want to talk to these guys so that they know it is possible to win. You've just to peak at the right time and get hungrier than ever."
Australian surfers looking for inspiration need look no further than elder statesman Occhilupo, who became the oldest world champion at 33 when he claimed the 1999 crown.