This was originally written on 16 May 2015 so it's not a current assessment.
I’m not sure what is going on with Sally this year. I swear she trains harder than anyone on the tour, she has the competitive drive and determination to be the champion and the experience and know-how many younger competitors haven’t learned, but this season she seems to be struggling.
Sally is my favourite. I’m supposed to be unbiased when I write and generally speaking I am but Sally was my inspiration while battling cancer so it’s hard not to show favouritism. Those days when I could actually sit up in bed I would watch recordings of the competitions on YouTube. Her performance and personality impressed me so much I said if I do survive this I’m going to meet her one day and thank her for being such an inspiration to me. A little over a year later I did that in Huntington Beach 2014 at the Van’s US Open of Surfing when I happened to be in the USA so I drove out to California to attend the event; even in person she amazed me.
It started very accidentally, I had been in contact with Sandra Olson from Women’s Surf Style Magazine that same weekend and I jokingly said I should cover the event since I’m here anyway. For many reasons I didn’t but a short time later I did my first magazine interview and Sally was gracious enough to be my first. Sandra Olson gave me the opportunity to succeed or fail and Sally gave me the opportunity to make my dream a reality. So forgive me if I seem a little bias towards Sally.
Sally has been a champion so many times in so many sports it is just a matter of time before she is the WSL champion too. She has been the runner up so many times she’s like the proverbial bridesmaid. Last year was hard for me to watch as she put on the yellow jersey only to lose it again in the next event. What I truly believed should have been Sally’s year came down to the closest finish in women’s surfing history but Sally wasn’t part of that battle. Why?
This year has been the worst I’ve ever seen as far as results go and I’m dumbfounded to come up with an answer to why she’s not winning those victories I expected to see. I’ve watched the replays and the events over and over but I don’t see the problem. She is a very seasoned competitor so I feel confident in saying she’s not beating herself out there by overthinking or poor wave selection. Could I be wrong? Can a person be overly prepared? Can it be possible to train too much? I’m not on her level but I doubt that’s the case.
Perhaps I’m reading too much in to this? Perhaps I’m just being overly bias because my favourite isn’t wearing the yellow jersey? Either way I must say it was an honour to meet her, to do a brief interview with her for an internationally recognized magazine and I still believe this will be her year. Go Sally!
I feel truly blessed to meet the person who inspired me to fight through those difficult days of radiation and chemo treatments. I know in my heart she will be the WSL champion and even though I know she’ll never see this I’d like to say the next time I see her during an event I would love to get together with her and Mr Fitzgibbons, who was also really great, for lunch or dinner if she would like.