Aussie champion Owen Wright quits the surfing tour due to concussions after brain injury left him unable to walk properly – proving head knocks aren’t just a danger to football stars
- Wright won bronze at Tokyo Olympics
- Made comeback after horror brain injury
- Has retired in order to protect his health
Having fought his way back from a brain injury to win Olympic bronze, Owen Wright has announced his retirement from competitive surfing, saying he no longer wants to risk his health.
The 33-year-old isn’t competing on this year’s World Surf League (WSL) tour after failing to qualify but has been granted a wildcard into the upcoming Bells Beach classic which will be his swansong.
With surfing making its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2021, his bronze medal capped an inspirational comeback after a shattering wipe-out at Hawaii’s Pipeline in 2015 left Wright with a severe head injury.
He had to learn to walk and surf again, rejoining the top tour in 2017 and winning his first event back, on the Gold Coast, before topping the podium again in 2019 in Tahiti.
Wright had to learn to walk and surf again after a shocking wipeout in Hawaii – but came back to win bronze for Australia at the Tokyo Olympics (pictured)
Wright said he wanted to prove a point by returning to the WSL but was no longer willing to risk his health in the big waves.
‘After my traumatic brain injury in 2015, my desire to prove to myself and the world that I could still be great and overcome this life-threatening incident inspired my recovery,’ Wright said in a WSL statement.
‘Now eight years later, after challenges and accomplishments, I can look back happily, knowing I achieved that goal.
‘Given my recent history with head injuries and concussions, competing at some of the heaviest waves on the planet is no longer in the best interest of my long-term health.
While he’s no longer prepared to accept the risks that come with competing on giant waves, Wright says he hopes to keep surfing for the rest of his life
The Olympic podium spot (pictured) was far from the only career highlight for the 33-year-old, who won four events on the World Surf League tour
‘I excelled in these conditions over my career, but the risks associated with this type of surfing are too significant for someone in my position, given my medical history.
‘I will not retire from surfing altogether – just from surfing heavy waves.
‘I hope to keep surfing for the rest of my life; I love surfing and thank the sport for everything I have.’
The father of two, whose sister is two-time world champion Tyler Wright, finished joint fifth at the Rip Curl Bells Beach last year and has been granted a wildcard for the 2023 edition, which gets underway at the famous Victorian break from Tuesday April 4.
From the NSW south coast, Wright won four events through his WSL career which started back in 2010.
He became the first competitor to surf two perfect heats in one event, scoring 10.0 at the 2015 Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak.
Wright said he hoped to continue to use his platform to promote awareness about brain injury and concussion in athletes.
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