Australian surfer Owen Wright wins the sport’s FIRST Olympic medal – five years after a brutal wipeout on a five-metre wave left him with brain bleeding and unable to WALK
Australian surfer Owen Wright has beaten two-time Brazilian world champion Gabriel Medina to win a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
He beat Medina in a nail-biting 11.97 to 11.77 display to become the first Australian to win a medal for surfing at the Olympics, capping off a remarkable comeback.
Five years ago, Wright suffered a near-fatal head injury while surfing at Hawaii’s Pipeline in 2015.
‘Mate, I feel like I’m walking on a cloud. I couldn’t be any prouder,’ he told Channel Seven afterwards.
‘My heart was beating SO hard! The conditions were crazy. I just stayed focused.’
His wife Kita and their two children proudly watched on back home in Australia on the NSW north coast.
Fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons was in tears after a shock quarter-final loss to Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki put her out of medal contention.
She called it the toughest result of her career.
Wright had a narrow loss to Brazil’s 2019 world champion Italo Ferreira in the semi-finals at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach.
Konoa Igarashi joined Tsuzuki as Japanese giant-killers, executing a stunning aerial to down Medina in their semi-final and set up the gold medal match against Ferreira.
Wright slapped the water in frustration when he lost priority with three minutes left in the semi and Ferriera held on to win 13.17 to 12.47.
Tsuzuki used home beach advantage perfectly to down Fitzgibbons.
A 6.60 ride gave Tsuzuki the lead with less than 10 minutes left.
The Australian could not find the 7.10 wave score she needed and Tsuzuki won 13.27 to 11.67.
‘To my family, I just want to say thanks so much,’ a tearful Fitzgibbons told Channel Seven.
‘I surfed every wave out there for you.’
Fitzgibbons said she badly wanted to perform better for her teammates and country.
‘This hurts so bad, this one (is) the toughest loss of my career,’ she said.
‘My heart is just shattered.’
Wright beat Peruvian Lucca Mesinas 16.30 to 11.90 earlier on Tuesday in their quarter-final.
The men’s and women’s finals were moved forward by one day because of the conditions generated by tropical storm Nepartak.