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Against the Water : A surfing champion's inspirational journey to Olympic glory - Owen Wright

Against the Water

A surfing champion's inspirational journey to Olympic glory

By: Owen Wright

Paperback | 2 January 2023

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The gut-wrenching story of how one of Australia’s finest surfers overcame a brain injury and despair to win an Olympic medal.

On the morning of 10 December 2015, Owen Wright entered the water at Pipeline, Hawaii, determined to become a world champion. But after being pounded by a set of monstrous waves, he ended up fighting for life and facing extensive brain trauma. In this inspirational memoir, Wright chronicles the events leading up to that fateful day, as well as the months and years that followed as he battled to regain basic functioning, and eventually the capacity to compete again at the apex of surfing.

Against the Water carries the reader back to Wright’s boyhood in the tiny town of Culburra, where his father, determined to raise champions, turned family life into a kind of boot camp. While eccentric, his father’s methods bore fruit: the Wrights of Culburra would become Australian surfing royalty. Owen’s story lays bare the complex relationship with his father – the adoration, the fight for independence, the fallings out, and the reconciliations.

Told in a spare, intimate style, Against the Water is the moving account of an athlete who refused to accept that his best days were behind him and raises fundamental questions around family and competition. What, ultimately, is our duty to our children? At what point does bravery become folly?
And how much should we sacrifice for the sake of another?

About the Author

In 2015, Aussie surfing legend Owen Wright was on the brink of a world title only to have his hopes dashed when he suffered a serious brain injury ahead of the final for the Pipeline Masters competition in Hawaii. In a single moment, he went from being ranked fifth in the world in surfing to having to learn how to walk and talk again. However, in 2017, Owen returned to form, immediately claiming victory at the opening event of the Champions Tour, part of a winning streak that has seen him most recently awarded the bronze medal for surfing at the Tokyo Olympics. His sister, Tyler Wright, is also a world champion surfer. Owen lives with his wife Kita Alexander and their children at Lennox Head, on the northern coast of New South Wales.
Industry Reviews
‘In the middle of the lockdowns, Owen came to stay with us. He had the North American leg of surf tour season and the Olympics right around the corner. Owen’s work ethic was apparent right from the get-go. All the gyms were closed, so Ow went to Walmart and brought home a $50 stationary bike. It was so small and so cheap but, let me tell you, that little bike could go. He would crush ten miles every day, never missing a beat. The mental capacity it took to do that many miles on that small of a bike . . . That’s a true fighter’s spirit! He never once got distracted or made an excuse in a time when everybody was, including myself. So obviously, when he took the bronze at the Olympics, I wasn’t surprised. I took that little Walmart bike and powder coated it bronze. She still sits in my front yard today, like a beautiful little lawn ornament. In memory of Ow and the Olympic dream.’

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