All-Time Sporting Moments With Sally Fitzgibbons
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Sally Fitzgibbons fought from day dot ’til the closing siren at Honolua Bay, and in 2018 she’ll return to the Women’s WCT more fired up than ever! She’ll start the season ranked World Number 3 – ready to campaign for the maiden World Title that has so narrowly eluded her – and who wouldn’t want to see Sal win it? (Aside from maybe Tyler, Steph and Carissa: big meanies that they are!) After all, Sal’s consistency to turn points into real-world scenarios mirrors her heat winning reputation. And being the sportsfan that she is, we thought it’d be interesting to ask Sal about her inspirations for the upcoming season. Not surprisingly most come from outside of the surfing bubble.
Cathy Freeman, 400 metres, Sydney Olympics 2000… I’ll never, ever forget this moment. I was ten and all I wanted to be at that stage of my life was an Olympian. I loved the 1500m and 800m and when the Olympics came to Australia Dad surprised us with tickets to the athletics. We were in the nosebleed section, two rows from the top… before they took the seats away. I remember Cathy crossing the line in her spacesuit and I was screaming at the top of my lungs. Carrying the weight of an entire nation on her shoulders, to win that race was the greatest thing we’ll ever witness in Australian sport.
Kerryn McCann, Marathon, Commonwealth Games Melbourne 2006… Kerryn McCann was a marathon runner, but one really close to my heart. She was from the South Coast of NSW too and I was running competitively as a kid, so as you can imagine I looked up to her a lot. She had a public battle with cancer and sadly passed away recently but I remember watching her win gold at the Commonwealth Games to defend her title in ’06. I was at home with all my family and it was a really special moment, not just for her, but also for our small stretch of coast. It’s something that I love as well, sharing wins with all the people from my hometown – I feel like I’m doing it with them.
Mo Farrer, Marathon, London Olympics 2014… British runner Mo Farrer won gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m at last year’s games. To do it in front of his home crowd with all that pressure was insane. It was similar to what Cathy would’ve experienced. I was in the States for the US Open at the time and there were so many nights I should’ve been asleep but I was hooked on everything; gymnastics, swimming, diving – the lot. It was cool to see the pressure and to see which athletes performed and which faltered. I took a lot from seeing different athletes react in different ways.
Adam Scott, The US Masters 2013… An Australian had never won golf’s most famous green jacket so Scott’s win at The US Masters was a huge moment. On the final day I was going to go surf, so I jumped into my wettie but then the playoff started and it was all coming down to the last round so I ended up stretching for hours in my suit in my loungeroom while I watched him make history. That win gave me goose bumps. He’s keen on his surfing too, a Sunny Coast kid who has inspired a whole generation of young golfers.
Mick Fanning, World Title Pipeline, 2013… All Mick’s World Titles were big sporting victories, especially for Australia, but Pipeline last year was a crowning moment. The lead-up was intense. With Kelly having to win the entire event and Mick having to get third to clinch the Title… you couldn’t write a better script. I was in the kitchen when he won his heat against CJ. I started chanting and yelling because he was getting so close and I actually woke up the whole house. It was made all the more special to me because Mick has been an incredible role model and helped me a lot. When you have an attachment to someone, to see them succeed is pretty special and it fires you up to smash it yourself.
St George Illawarra Dragons, Premiership 2010… My family love Rugby League and there’s no team other than St. George. Gotta love the red and white. I played a lot of touch footy as a kid and have always loved the game but travelling all the time, it’s hard to keep in touch with every game. I was in Portugal, listening to the radio because it wasn’t televised and I was in the lobby at Peniche, about four in the morning. It was getting closer and closer and I started cheering and everyone was walking through the marble foyer thinking, woah… that chick is crazy. It’s always great to see them win the ANZAC match too because it’s a family tradition of ours to watch that game.
Nadal vs Djokovic, Australian Tennis Open 2012… I’ve been down to the Open for the last few years, I absolutely love it. My brother and I left Minamurra about four in the morning, flew to Melbourne and watched tennis matches the entire day. We weren’t supposed to stay for the night match but I begged the lady that organised our tickets and she came up with the goods. Next thing I know I’m walking into Rod Laver Arena being ushered to my seats which turned out to be right next to Nadal’s box. It was insane. That match went for five hours, a total marathon of truly great tennis. No surfing heat will ever be that taxing. It didn’t finish till 1am and we didn’t have a flight booked home or any accommodation. The first flight home wasn’t till 6am so we walked into the airport, laid on the bench and I whipped out my souvenir towel and slept there on the floor for the night. The things you do for sport, right?