499: Surfing champion Owen Wright and the greatest comeback story of all time

If you hurt yourself, doing something you loved, would you do it again?

What if it was something that because you were so passionate about it that had you ended up becoming one of the best in the world at it - which then became a gig that paid really, really well - if you hurt yourself doing that thing do you think you would do it again?

What if the injury was so severe that it nearly killed you, and it took you almost a year to be able to walk or talk again? Would you go back to it? Would you face the fear of getting hurt again? And even if you did go back, could you handle being nowhere near as capable as you once were?

That is exactly what Australian Surfer Owen Wright did.

In 2015 while surfing at pipeline, Owen sustained a traumatic brain injury that very nearly killed him.

Unable to walk or talk properly, not only his life, but his surfing career hanging in the balance.

The story of how Owen managed to regain mobility, and not only get back into the water, but to go on to win Australia’s first Olympic surfing medal in 2021, is easily one of the most inspirational comeback stories ever told.

We are only beginning to speak with appropriate gravity about brain inquiries in sport. There’s a renewed emphasis on safeguarding athlete well-being and minimising brain injuries in Australian athletes. The Australian Government has even increased funding to enhance research and prevention of brain injuries and concussions in sports.

As far as what you and I can do? We can have conversations around these injuries and start showing our children that safety matters, because a brain injury is life long and potentially life ending.

Even if you’ve never surfed, or never had to rehab after a significant injury - this chat with Owen Wright is easily one of the most incredible conversations about what recovery from a traumatic injury actually looks like.

Owen even generously shares about a near-death experience which left me utterly transfixed.

Not everyone is going to learn how to walk again and then win an Olympic medal - but it’s important to know that it can be done.

It’s a brilliant listen, and I hope you enjoy it.

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