EXCLUSIVE: Owen Wright’s First Full Length Q&A About The Wipeout And Brain Injury That Nearly Ended Him
“One of the greatest sporting comebacks of all-time” – 3 x World Champion Mick Fanning
With Sean Doherty
Photo by Corey Wilson
Owen Wright’s triumphant return from a life threatening brain injury to world number one is the stuff of sporting legend. Now, in an exclusive interview with SW’s Sean Doherty, he takes breath on the wipeout that almost ended him.
“If you try and duckdive a 15-foot second reef Pipe wave, you’re only going to be a foot under water with 15 feet of wave coming down on you,” says Owen. “Something is going to give… and I gave.”
What we knew then, was "Owen suffered severe head trauma, but the details of his condition remained unclear." What we know now, is that, “Doctors diagnosed bleeding on the brain and post-traumatic amnesia, and Owen’s memories of those early months recovering at home are badly smudged, if they are there at all,” writes Sean Doherty.
The article goes on to explore the 11 month battle he faced – relearning an entire life from scratch – as Owen likens the condition to drowning underwater, “When I was in trauma, a wave would come and every time it did I would just drown. I was helpless,” says Owen.
During this time, little sister Tyler flew the flag for her injured sibling as she rallied for her first World Title campaign in 2016. Writes Doherty: “Torn between her brother and the World Title last year, her brother famously told her to go and win it." And win it, she did – a victory that in many ways, spurred on Owen's miraculous recovery.
But it’s his recent triumph the 2017 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast – Owen’s first event back on the WSL World Tour – that sets this comeback as one of sport’s most remarkable. In an emotional final against stablemate Matt Wilkinson, Owen admits the event was one of his most confronting.
“Out in the water I was still trying to accept that I’d won. Am I supposed to claim here? I don’t know what I’m feeling right now,” he says.
Now, Owen's return to form sees him roll into the quarter finals at the WSL Drug Aware Pro, Margaret River these coming days.
For the full story, get your hands on Surfing World 385 on sale April 6, 2017.
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