QUEEN OF THE WAVES
That’s gold: Gilmore crowned, looks for Games glory and more
RIDING the crest of a wave following her record-equalling seventh world title, Tweed’s Stephanie Gilmore is already contemplating two new quests that could deliver her a place in sporting history as the greatest ever surfer.
With a stunning rainbow in the distance and whales swimming close by at Honolua Bay, the Tweed Coaster matched the record of surf legend Layne Beachley when her American rival Lakey Peterson suffered a shock early defeat at the Maui Pro this week.
Gilmore watched on from a nearby hill as the result secured her seventh world title since winning the championship tour in her debut season back in 2007.
“I just felt like when I was asked about matching Layne so many times I would just say whatever came into my head because it didn’t really feel real,” Gilmore said from Hawaii.
“To finally do it is just incredible. “It feels like there is such a big difference between No.6 and 7.
“Being out there today and surfing such incredible waves and being a part of such a strong group of inspirational women, it all clicked.
“This is why I do it, this is why I love it.”
And with no plans of retiring any time soon, Gilmore has acknowledged matching – if not exceeding – the all-time record of the great Kelly Slater could be on the horizon, alongside a bid for an historic Olympic gold when surfing makes its Games debut in Tokyo in 2020.
“Oh man, that’s a lot,” she said when she was asked before winning her seventh crown if she would target Slater’s haul of 11 world crowns.
“I’d love to do that. That’s what is so exciting. Win or lose I think ahead of so many wonderful opportunities.
“The Olympics would be really cool as well. Can you image being the first person to win a surfing gold?
“I couldn’t even see a retirement in my near future.
“The Olympics have given me a glimpse of the future.
“To have another pinnacle to aim for is incredible.”
If Gilmore is in the top eight on the women’s world tour next year she will qualify as one of two women to represent Australia in Japan. The leading two Australians in the top 10 of the men’s world tour will also qualify.