Injury fuels hunger for title
AHEAD of Saturday’s season opener at Snapper Rocks, perennial world title contender Joel Parkinson said he hoped the year of the rabbit is the year he breaks his duck.
The Coolangatta cult hero has ruffled the feathers of many a world champion since becoming the youngest surfer to win an ASP World Tour event as a wildcard, claiming the Billabong Pro in South Africa in 1999.
Yet despite several near misses, including a runner-up finish behind good mate Mick Fanning in 2009, Parkinson has yet to secure an ASP world title.
He finished the 2010 season 24th in the world title rankings after a horror injury – he sliced his heel open with his surfboard fin – forced the stylish natural-footer to sit out the bulk of the season.
However, now fighting-fit Parkinson said he’s developed an insatiable appetite for all things surfing in the lead-up to this weekend’s Quiksilver Pro.
“I guess the benefit now is that I’m hungry ... not only to compete, but just to surf,” Parkinson said.
“That’s one of the key things with surfing on the tour, you’ve got to not only stay hungry to surf throughout a whole event, you’ve got to stay hungry over the course of a whole year.
“That’s how I’m feeling, that’s how hungry I am to surf right now.”
Despite American Kelly Slater winning world title number 10 last year aged 38, Parkinson believes his time is running out.
He said last year’s disappointments served as a timely reminder that he’s not getting any younger and his time to strike is now.
“It’s a big year for me for sure,” Parkinson said. “I turn 30 pretty soon and after what’s happened over the past couple of years, if I can surf every event this year at 100% fitness, I’d consider that a victory in itself. If I can do that, I’m confident I’m going to be challenging but I don’t dwell on what’s happened to me.
“I’ve learned to just worry about the 30 minutes of the next heat in front of me and then it’s all about stringing a lot of good 30 minutes together.”
However, the father of three is well aware of the roadblocks that exist in the form of his fellow elite campaigners.
While Slater will always be a threat, it is old foe Fanning and reigning world No.2 Jordy Smith that Parkinson is most concerned by.
“I think Jordy will be a lot more mature in the way he surfs heats, just on the back of the confidence he’ll take from last year,” Parkinson said.
“He’s an amazing surfer and he put together a really good season last year.
“Mick’s surfing on the trip we just did blew me away too.
“You can see he’s been working pretty hard on big airs and stuff the judges will really notice.”
Parkinson will battle Brazilian duo Adriano de Souza and Alejo Muniz in round one of the Quiksilver Pro which gets underway at Snapper Rocks on Saturday.