Kingscliff?s Stephanie Gilmore practised signing her name on the Roxy Pro winner?s board
Kingscliff?s Stephanie Gilmore practised signing her name on the Roxy Pro winner?s board

Steph beats champ

By ADAM WRATTEN

MEMO from Kingscliff High student Stephanie Gilmore to the world's top women surfers: I'm coming.

Gilmore, 17, believes she can be No.1. Yesterday, she provided a glimpse of the future when she sensationally beat world champion Sofia Mulanovich in their first-round heat in the Roxy Pro at Snapper Rocks.

"It's going to take weeks to wipe this smile off my face," a beaming Gilmore said after her upset win.

The tall blonde earned a shot at Mulanovich after winning Monday's qualifying trial. She didn't sleep much that night.

But even in her wildest dreams she couldn't have foreseen such a convincing win. "It's an amazing feeling even to get this far. This is as much as I can think of - beating Sofia," Gilmore said. Admitting she was normally a bundle of nerves before competition, Gilmore said she had been swept along this time by the buzz surrounding her trials win.

"I get nervous even for the smallest of events," she said. "But this time I was excited."

Gilmore realised she was leading her heat yesterday, but only heard the scores with six minutes to go.

"Sofia was back in third place. (She's) such an amazing surfer who can pull anything out of the bag, I knew it wasn't over.

"I thought to myself, I'm halfway through, I've got a job to do now."

She finished with scores of 8.50 and 5.67. Mulanovich finished third behind Australia's Melanie Redman-Carr, eventually scraping through the loser's round.

With luck on her side, Gilmore believes she is a real chance to win the Roxy Pro title despite her relative lack of experience.

"I think Chelsea Georgeson and Layne Beachley are the girls to beat.

"I'm learning a lot and this is where I want to be in the future."

After the tournament, Gilmore returns to the humdrum of school life. But come 2006: "I'm going to take on the world".



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