Q&A with Sally Fitzgibbons

Sally Fitzgibbons is an Australian professional surfer on the Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour (2009–2013). In June 2019, she was ranked No. 1 in the world for women's surfing after winning the Rio Pro. Fitzgibbons won a gold medal at the final qualifying event at the ISA World Games in El Salvador in June 2021 (her fourth ISA Gold medal) in the lead up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This was her 3rd ISA World Title which is the most held by a female surfer. Sally competed in athletics before she started her professional surfing career. She was a national champion winning middle-distance runner in the 800m and 1500m, also winning gold medals in both those events at the 2007 Youth Olympics. She also played touch football and soccer.

What do you like the most about surfing?

What I love most about surfing is that it requires you to be absolutely present, so that you can connect with the ocean. You have to be able to feel its energy, movement and understand what language it’s speaking that day. Every time you paddle out into the lineup it has the surprise and excitement of a first date. You get to take the energy charge you receive from your surf and spread it wherever you go in your day. There are so many things to love about surfing that you hang on to, so that the positives can carry you through the challenging parts, the frustrations and moments when you are really hard on yourself for mistakes and poor performance. You learn to embrace it all and love it unconditionally. Surfing is a representation of life and teaches you many lessons along the way.

What's your favourite sports memory?

My favourite sports memory is being in the stadium with my family to watch Cathy Freeman win Gold in the 2000 Olympics. I still remember the roar and the stadium shaking. It planted the seed of inspiration in me to go on and dedicate my life to sport.

How do you feel about Pilates and Yoga?

I feel both practices are amazing to connect with yourself and bring you back to the present moment just like surfing. It gives you an understanding of where you are physically, mentally and emotionally on any given day. They both amazingly create space to breathe deeply and let the world and your problems wait until you are finished. Everything becomes a little clearer once you allow a pilates or yoga session to bring you back within yourself and grounded in your body and mind.

Can you share one secret that one shouldn’t miss to get to the top?

The TOP - I feel is a little bit of an illusion, it’s another way of saying “show up as your best self in all scenarios you are faced with”. The top is where you don’t shy away from your vulnerabilities and accept who you are and the decisions you have made. The top isn’t a finish-line but rather a great viewing platform to see the next peak you are aiming for. The top was only created because of the joy, passion and connection you had with your craft right back at the beginning.

Which is your favourite food or drink to stay fit and healthy?

Whole food is my favourite. Fresh fruit and veggies I grow in my garden. Grass fed proteins and fresh eggs from the farms on the South Coast and amazing local seafood.

What music do you like to listen when training?

It’s all about the classics.. Bachman Turner Overdrive is what my Dad would use to get him psyched and that stuck with me “Rock is my life- and this is my song” . Also the Rocky movies were a fav between one of my first ever running coaches who I call Mickey from the movie. So any of the soundtracks from Rocky.

Does your training outfit impact your performance?

Training outfits have a huge impact on my performance. Especially being female and having hormonal swings each month, which means the body is forever changing and fluctuating. I want what I wear to support me in all the right areas so that I can fully lean in and go for it without soreness.

Which is your favourite place to train?

My favourite place to train is without a doubt my home on the South Coast of NSW. Surrounded by nature and wildlife… connected to the community, an inspiring tribe of people that contribute to the fabric of home.  I’m so proud to represent my community wherever I go.

Who do you like training with?

Being from a small country town I always had a love of training solo. The peace and imagination that comes with being out in the ocean all by yourself is such a special feeling. My Mum and Dad have always been my biggest rocks and have supported me everyday and every step of the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their selfless efforts in driving me to training, competitions and flying around the world with me even now that I’m older. I’ve loved being on the sports roller coaster ride with them and having them around to this day at my training sessions.

Who do you admire?

My parents, my grandparents, my home community and anyone that shows up to their challenges and are willing to lean in, be vulnerable and have a go.