Background image
Steph-Gilmore-Olympian-Bio-Image.png

Stephanie Gilmore

Age

36

Place of Birth

Murwillumbah, NSW

Olympic History

Tokyo 2020

Career Events

Surfing Womens Open

 

Stephanie's Story

Fast Facts 

Sport: Surfing
Event: Shortboard Women
Olympic History: Tokyo 2020
Highlights: 8x WSL World Champion
Year Born: 1988
Born: Murwillumbah, NSW

About Stephanie 

Born in an Olympic year, perhaps it was always destined that Steph would compete in the green and gold one day on the world’s greatest multi-sport stage.

As a promising teenage surfer, she accepted an invitation to compete as a wild card in the Layne Beachley Classic at Manly in 2006 by Beachley herself - then upstaged the world champion in the final of her own event!

Steph joined the World Surf League (WSL) women’s championship tour the next year and hasn’t looked back. Eight world titles from 2007-2022 underlines her dominance. She is the one they call ‘Happy Gilmore’ or ‘The Smiling Assassin’ – depending on whether you’re in the water against her or not.

Steph Gilmore wins Oi Rio Women's Pro

“Her style of surfing is very fluid and beautiful to watch, so unique, so graceful. She is the female version of Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning combined,” Beachley said.

“She’s a beautiful girl inside and out, but her beauty has always shrouded a formidable competitor.”

Steph is the youngest of three girls and credits her parents for balancing the fierce competitor within, to her fun-loving outlook.

“Mum was a school teacher so it was all about working hard and getting your homework done. I think it's just a really nice balance because dad's like the creative, hippie, surf dude,” Steph said.

She couldn’t have known that as a 12-year-old watching Cathy Freeman win Sydney 2000 athletics gold that she would get her Olympic opportunity one day – when surfing made its debut at Tokyo 2020 years later.

“I can't imagine all the pressure on Cathy to go out there and win. To see her win was just the greatest sporting moment I'd seen in my life,” Steph said.


Steph has juggled a whole gamut of emotions in her life already, including a 2010 assault outside her home.

She received stitches in her head and a broken wrist after a random attack. The traumatic experience took some time to get over both physically and mentally, as she forfeited her place on the WSL tour after winning four world crowns in a row.

“I didn't win the title next year and it was kind of the first moment in my life where I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. I can't trust my intuition. My confidence is missing. I don't feel safe at home. It was the first really tough moment in my life and I just had to figure it out.”

And that she has done – adding another four world titles, her most recent in 2022.

But for her first Olympics, she represented Surfing Australia’s new national team name and slogan – The Irukandjis: Deadly in the Water.

“We wanted the name to be really meaningful and inclusive with a lot of depth. We also wanted it to have an Indigenous Australian cultural connection, something we could feel really proud of and driven by as we paddle out.

“The name ‘Irukandji’ came up, which means box jellyfish. It’s a tiny creature but can be pretty deadly if you get stung by one.”

Her dreams of winning a gold in Tokyo were cut short in the third round of competition when the Gold Coast based natural-footer came up against a blisteringly in-form Bianca Buitendag of South Africa.

An unfortunate priority error from Steph allowed Buitendag to find a small-to-mid size righthand wave that allowed for a chain of giant snaps and turns. The wave was rewarded with a decent 7.10 wave score and left Gilmore searching for an elusive 7.76 score that never eventuated.

"I looked at that wave and I was like, it doesn't look that good, so I let her have it and she turned it into a seven, so that was the most frustrating thing to me - like, man, I should have just taken that wave," Steph said after the heat.

"That's just the nature of surfing, sometimes the waves are there, sometimes the waves are not."

A year later Steph climbed back to the top of the sport, winning an unprecedented eighth WSL world championship title to standalone as the most successful female surfer of all-time.

Entering the competition in fifth, Steph needed to have a perfect day, beating the fourth, third and second ranked surfers to progress to the final - where she defeated reigning World Champion Carissa Moore to take the 2022 crown.

The victory passed Layne Beachley who has seven world championship titles.

Read More