‘Getting to the top is hard,’ they say, ‘but staying there is harder.’ Sustained excellence is the most elusive of goals, and when people talk of the world’s great achievers it’s those that have reached the heights most often or stayed there the longest that elicit the greatest respect. Ask ‘who’s the world’s greatest sportsman?’ and you’re likely to be pointed to the likes of Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. Someone who rarely gets mentioned but certainly deserves to be included in such company is the American surfer Kelly Slater (Feb 11, 1972, Cocoa Beach, Florida).
World Champion a record 10 times, including 5 consecutive titles from 1994–98, Slater is both the youngest (at age 20) and oldest (at age 38) winner of the title. His 5th title in 1997 made him the most successful champion in the history of the sport. In May 2005, he became the first surfer ever to be awarded two perfect scores for a total 20 out of 20 points under the ASP two-wave scoring system. And, in 2007 he became the all-time leader in career event wins.
Unlike Tiger and Roger, Kelly is still at the very top of his sport. Having secured his 10th world title in 2010 he opened 2011 by winning the first event of the season on Australia’s Gold Coast.
That sort of record deserves respect in any sport, but in one as dangerous and physically demanding as surfing it’s truly inspiring. See for yourself…