Gilmore back in action
A SIMMERING rivalry between Stephanie Gilmore (pictured) and Tyler Wright could boil over in one of the first heats of the year, when the Roxy Pro starts the women's world surfing tour.
Four-time world champion Gilmore takes on Wright, 16, in heat three of the opening Association of Surfing Professionals event, which could start today.
Wright already has one result over Gilmore, at the Beachley Classic in Sydney in 2008, and pushed the four-time world champion to the limit when they met at Bells Beach last year.
Gilmore, the defending event and world champion, will enter the contest from tomorrow to March 9 still feeling the effects of a broken wrist she suffered in a brutal assault near her home in Tweed Heads recently. It sets the scene for Wright to mark the start of her rookie year with a win, but Gilmore knows the competitor she is up against – a girl she rates as a top-five contender.
“She is a fantastic surfer. She is really fit, hungry, she loves competing in all kinds of conditions,” Gilmore said.
“I am pretty sure she is going to be in the top five this year for sure, so it will be interesting to see,” Gilmore said.
The Kingscliff product is looking forward to the potential rivalry with the up-and-comer and the other Australians, including Sally Fitzgibbons and another rookie Laura Enever.
“It is going to be a great rivalry, whether it be Sally and Tyler, or myself and Tyler, or myself and Sally. There is going to be a lot of good girls at the top who are going to be really pushing each other, especially the Australian girls,” Gilmore said.
Gilmore said her wrist still wasn't 100 percent.
“It is sort of like the range of motion – obviously the push up off the board (is affected),” she said. “It is still here, still attached.
“It works. I have had a couple of surfs and I will definitely be competing, so I am very excited about that.”
The injury has given Gilmore a renewed hunger to go after world title number five.
“Maybe it has been a blessing in disguise. To have this happen, to actually be forced to sit around and watch the waves go by was different.
“It was interesting and something I am using now as a motivation, because I have never been so keen to go surfing before in my life.
“It is great, a good feeling to have coming into the first event of the year.”
The Roxy and Quiksilver Pro trials hit the water this morning.