Sally Fitzgibbons is a warrior. This we knew already, but yesterday at the Women’s Fiji Pro the Australian scaled Mount Gnarl anew, and reached vertiginous new heights. Somehow she maintained both her balance and composure.
Sally fell on her final wave in her Round 2 heat against Mahina Maeda. She pulled in to a tight little barrel on the Cloudbreak end section, picked the wrong line and got sucked over the falls. It looked innocuous enough. She hopped on the ski back to the line-up without any apparent problem, but once off the ski it soon became clear that all was not well.
Holding her head with one arm and paddling gingerly with the other, she seemed not only in serious pain but also in genuine distress. Maeda paddled over to her and gestured for the ski, which returned a tearful and barely mobile Fitzgibbons to the boat, not without considerable logistical difficulty. There she was attended on by doctors, who soon diagnosed her with a perforated eardrum.
But that was not the end of her Fiji Pro, as surely it would have been for most. For she not only paddled out — against the doctor’s orders — for her Round 3 heat less than two hours later, wearing a headband in the manner of a rugby player, but won the heat convincingly, high-scoring with a 9.60 (see below) and posting a 17.10 total to beat Laura Enever and Lakey Peterson.
Click here for full highlights and roundup. Scroll down for Strider’s post-heat interview with Sally.