His Pipeline concussion (2015) threatens his ‘long-term health’…
Australia’s Owen Wright won bronze in the inaugural surfing competition of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Photograph: Nic Bothma/EPA
Olympic bronze medalist Owen Wright recently announced his retirement from competitive surfing… he plans to use the upcoming Bells Beach classic as his swan song of a great 13 year career.
The 33-year-old decided not to compete on this year’s World Surf League tour after failing to qualify with the elite field now cut mid-season.
Owen, father of two, and whose sister is two-time world champion Tyler Wright, has opted out of competing in the Challenger series grind to attempt to rejoin the WCT in Dec.
Wright finished joint fifth at Bells Beach last year and has been granted a wildcard for the 2023 edition, which gets underway at the famous Victorian break from Tuesday, April 4.
With surfing making its Olympic debut in Tokyo in 2021, Wright’s bronze medal capped an inspirational comeback after a shattering wipe-out at Pipeline in 2015 that causes a traumatic brain injury.
He had to learn to walk and surf again, rejoining the top tour in 2017 and winning his first event back, on the Gold Coast, and topping the podium again in 2019 in Tahiti.
Wright said competing in big waves was not the best thing for his health and he would walk away satisfied with his achievements.
TEAHUPO’O, TAHITI – Owen Wright of Australia advances to the semi finals of the 2019 Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o after winning Quarter Final Heat 1 at Teahupo’o on August 28, 2019 in Tahiti, Franch Polynesia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/WSL
“After my traumatic brain injury in 2015, my desire to prove to myself and the world that I could still be great and overcome this life-threatening incident inspired my recovery,” Wright said in a WSL statement.
“Now eight years later, after challenges and accomplishments, I can look back happily, knowing I achieved that goal.
“Given my recent history with head injuries and concussions, competing at some of the heaviest waves on the planet is no longer in the best interest of my long-term health.
“I excelled in these conditions over my career, but the risks associated with this type of surfing are too significant for someone in my position, given my medical history.
“I will not retire from surfing altogether — just from surfing heavy waves.
“I hope to keep surfing for the rest of my life; I love surfing and thank the sport for everything I have.”
From the NSW south coast, Wright won four events during his WSL career which started back in 2010.
He became the first CT’r to surf two perfect heats in one event, scoring 10 at the 2015 Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak.
Wright hopes to continue to use his platform to promote awareness about brain injury and concussion in athletes.
Owen Wright has won four WSL events throughout his career.