Sally Fitzgibbons | Australian Olympic Committee
 

Sally's Story

Fast Facts

Sport: Surfing 
Event: Shortboard Women 
Olympic History: Tokyo debutant 
Highlights: Three-time gold medal winner WSG (World Surfing Games)  
Year Born:   1990  
Born: Nowra, NSW 

About Sally 

Nothing ever seems to be able to wipe the smile off Sally Fitzgibbons' face, with her engaging, happy demeanour, her trademark. 

But don't be fooled. After three times finishing runner-up in the WSL's World Championship Tour race Sally's focus is to stand on that Tokyo 2020 Olympic podium.  

At the ISA's 2018 World Surfing Games (WSG) at Tahara in Japan, Sally won the gold medal in the women's division final to lift Australia to a team silver medal. It was 10 years after winning the gold in the same event at the Portugal 2008 WSG.

She won her third WSG gold medal in El Salvador during the final Olympic qualifying event in June.

It gave Sally invaluable momentum on the road to Tokyo – but then COVID hit, closing borders, and cancelling world sporting events. Sally used the time to strengthen all areas of her surfing. 


"I'm always learning. I'm like a young Jedi," Sally said, who has completed a Certificate III in Personal Training. 

"Fitness is such an integral part of everything I do on tour. I love discovering new ways to move and challenge my body, to be stronger, fitter and more powerful in the water." 

Having three older brothers and growing up in the surfing culture of Gerroa on the NSW south coast, meant Sally has had to learn fast.  

Her biggest problem was making surfing THE sport she wanted to pursue at the elite level. 

"Surfing wasn't my only love. As a kid, I ran track, played soccer, touch footy, footy, as many sports as I could fit in," she said. 

Sally was as impressive on land as in the water – she won the 800m and 1500m on the track at the 2007 Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney, where athletes from 23 countries competed in 14 sports. 

 

But surfing won out, and in 2007 as a 16-year-old, Sally became World Junior Surfing champion. 

Her rookie season on the WCT was 2009 and she's enjoyed 11 event wins in famed surfing locations like Fiji, Trestles, Margaret River and Bell's Beach. 

"I've been on tour for 12 years now, and over time, the whole experience weaves this tapestry of wins and losses, highs and lows, that makes you the competitor that you are today." 

She's the author of two books: ‘Summer Fit All Year Round', a fitness and food guide, and ‘The Surf Girl Handbook' with information on getting started, oceanography, choosing the right equipment etc.  

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Q&A

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How did you go about turning a hobby into a career?
What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
Have you always been a competitive person?