Stephanie Gilmore can be surfing’s greatest: Beachley
Retired surfing great Layne Beachley believes Stephanie Gilmore can go on to become the sport’s greatest after her fifth world title win.
RETIRED surfing great Layne Beachley believes Stephanie Gilmore can go on to become the sport’s greatest after her fifth world title win.
Gilmore regained the women’s world championship by winning the penultimate event of the year in Biarritz, France on Saturday.
The 24-year-old won four straight titles from 2007-2010 but fell back to the No.3 ranking last year when her life was disrupted by a violent assault.
But after bouncing back, Beachley is confident Gilmore can go on to eclipse her women’s record of seven titles and even surpass legendary men’s surfer Kelly Slater, who currently has a record 11 championships to his name.
“She is still very young. She’s won five world titles before I’d won one,” Beachley told AAP.
“You can’t question her hunger and her desire and her talent. She obviously loves to win. I had no question that she was going to bounce back, it was just a matter of time.
“To bounce back as quickly as she has it’s just a testament to her character and also to her tenacity.
“She’s still got plenty of time to win more … she’s loving what she’s doing so as long as she’s in that state of mind I have little doubt that she’ll smash my record and go close to equalling Kelly’s.”
Gilmore beat teenage Australian Tyler Wright 18.53 points to 13.10 in the final of the Roxy Pro to take out the title with another Australian, Sally Fitzgibbons, now resigned to finish second in this year’s championship.
Fitzgibbons was beaten in the quarter-finals by Hawaiian Coco Ho but Beachley believes the 21-year-old, who also finished as runner-up to Carissa Moore in the 2011 title race, will continue to be Gilmore’s main obstacle in the years to come.
“My heart goes out to Sal, she’s come so close so many times,” Beachley said.
“It’s just going to fire her up even more. She’s a tenacious competitor, she loves to win.
“She’s got the desire to win a world title and I know she’s never going to quit until she gets that.
“I think she’s going to be Steph’s major rival and to beat hungry competitors like Sally you have to be on top of your game.” – AAP
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