Brother’s inspiration drives star’s Olympic dream

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Tyler Wright is off to the Olympics. Picture: Aaron Hughes/World Surf League

Australian surfing superstar Tyler Wright says the chance to emulate her brother Owen and net an Olympic medal is a “surreal” opportunity having “obsessed” over the Games since she was a child.

Wright, Molly Picklum, Jack Robinson and Ethan Ewing were locked in as the quartet set to represent Australia in Paris with surfing in the Games for just the second time.

Having seen her brother collect bronze in Tokyo, Australia’s first Olympic medal in surfing, two-time world champion Wright said she would be “scared” surfing the Teahupo’o break in Tahiti but the medal quest would help her overcome it.

“To see surfing in the Olympics in Tokyo 2020 was kind of surreal,” Wright said.

“The Olympics for me is something I’ve sat down since I was young and just spent two weeks absolutely obsessing over the sport. To see my own sport there was kind of weird but so cool. I’m excited to see where it can go from here.

Surfing - Olympics: Day 4
Owen Wright celebrates winning his men's bronze medal in Japan. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

“Teahupo’o is a massive wave of consequence. It’s beautiful, it’s raw and it’s a wave where you don’t want to find out the consequences. You want to go in with a really humble and respectful approach to mother nature and what she produces.

“More than likely I’m going to be scared, but it’s being honest with that and sticking to what’s important for me in that opportunity, that’s all I can ask for myself.”

At just 21, Picklum, second on the WSL world rankings, also noted how “scary” the wave they’d have to surf would be but, with a growing reputation as a fearless surfer in big conditions, could find herself on the podium.

“To be selected on the Australian Olympic team is an honour,” she said.

“Once I put this shirt on and talk about it, it’s becoming real. I still don’t think I understand the full impact.

“Tahiti is a pretty scary wave. Our surfing team is really strong and this team is ideal for this location – the boys and Tyler are such good barrel riders, and this wave is all about barrel riding. This team is definitely worthy of sitting on the edge of your seat and watching.”

Australia’s Olympic surfers Jack Robinson, Tyler Wright, Molly Picklum and Ethan Ewing. Picture: Michael Klein
Australia’s Olympic surfers Jack Robinson, Tyler Wright, Molly Picklum and Ethan Ewing. Picture: Michael Klein

Robinson looms as a serious medal contender having won the 2023 Tahiti Pro at Teahupo’o that he called the “heaviest wave in the world”.

“When I got selected it was a dream. Representing the Irukandjis, just really proud to represent your country,” he said.

“Teahupo’o is the heaviest wave in the world. It’s so gnarly, you just have to respect the wave every time you go out. It was really inspiring watching Owen (Wright), I just want to get to the Olympics first, once we’re there it will all unfold.”

Queenslander Ewing said it felt amazing to be officially selected for his debut Olympics.

“It’s been a huge goal of mine since surfing got introduced to the Olympics, it’s an absolute honour to represent Australia,” he said.

“It’s really exciting, I feel more pressure because I’m not just surfing for myself, it’s for my teammates, and the people that have represented Australia before me, but I love it, I’m super proud.”