In a dramatic come-from-behind victory, Team Australia was crowned the 2009 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Champions today in Salinas, Ecuador.
Dean Bowen (Gerroa, NSW) and Tyler Wright (pictured, Lennox Head, NSW) won individual gold medals for Under-18 Boys and Under-18 Girls to push Team Australia over the line for a fourth consecutive team gold medal.
The largest crowds ever seen at a junior surfing event packed the beach to witness a thrilling conclusion to the contest which saw 264 athletes from 28 countries boil down to just four surfers from each division.
In the Under-18 Girls Final, Australian Tyler Wright was up against 2008 ISA World Junior gold medalist, Australian teammate Laura Enever, USA surfer Courtney Conlogue and Hawaiian Alessa Quizon.
After charging through the main rounds through all eight days, Wright came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, posting the first big score of the final and holding on to first for the entire 30 minutes.
USA surfer Courtney Conlogue stayed on Wright’s heels, also posting big scores, but in the end was left needing almost nine points to overtake Wright.
Coming in from the water on the shoulders of Australian teammates and wrapped in the Aussie flag, Wright poured water over herself to cool down from an exhausting and intense final.
“This is so awesome,” said Wright.
“I have waited one year for this result after placing second last year.
“On the top of my 2009 goal list was to become the World Junior Champion and to reach it is just amazing.
“Every heat this year in Ecuador has been a hard. There are so many good competitors here from around the world. I knew I had to just focus on my own game out there in the water and not worry about the others.
“We hit rock bottom the other day and it didn’t look as though we would be in the medal rounds, but we pulled together as a team. The support we’ve given each other has been amazing.”
Today’s final was a triumph for Australia, which found itself relegated to sixth place in the standings only two days ago.
“It comes down to the fact that all of our kids have the real Aussie pride,” said Australian coach Mark Richardson.
“At the world juniors, there are so many good surfers and there is a lot of pressure.
“But when the pressure comes on, our kids step up. They’ve got big, big hearts. They stayed positive and they didn’t give up.”
As winners of the Under-18 Boys and Under-18 Girls, Dean Bowen and Tyler Wright will also receive entry spots in the 2010 Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast Trials, an Association of Surfing Professionals World Tour event.
Final country placing went to:
For all of the press releases and full details on the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Championships visit the event website at www.isaworldjuniors.com
Picture courtesy of Surfing Australia.