Since suffering a serious head injury at Pipe in December, Owen Wright has had a tough road to recovery. On Instagram Wednesday, he revealed some of what that struggle looks and feels like, as well what he's learning along the way.
"I went for my first surf a couple days ago," he wrote. "It was the funnest thing in the world. Funny thing is... I couldn't get to my feet. So I just laid there. It was about knee high and the drop was... well, there was none but it felt like I was dropping into 10-foot Teahupo'o. I finished the wave and I was so stoked I let out a hoot and claimed it and high-fived Kita.
"Five mins later I was on the beach," he continued, "and started to think about what I actually did and started comparing it to what I used to be like or what everybody else was doing out there... and started to question why cant I. This started to ruin my experience and change how I really felt.
"It made me realize that self-improvement is necessary but to focus on comparison of what used to be, what others can do or why you're not good enough is detrimental to the now; negative emotion in yourself will hinder improvement and happiness. Simple statement .... challenging to practice."
Wright hurt himself freesurfing during the 2015 Billabong Pipe Masters. He took some heavy waves on the head and a hospital examination soon after confirmed that he had suffered a severe concussion, minor bleeding in the brain and limited movement. The injury forced him to withdraw from the contest, and effectively took him out of the 2015 World Title race, in which he was World No. 5.
In late February, Wright withdrew from the first half of the 2016 season. Is a statement, he said, "It's disappointing to have to withdraw from the opening events of the year, but the important thing is to ensure that I am 100 percent healthy for when I return to that level of competition.
"I've been working regularly with top specialists in the country and they've given me a lengthy rehabilitation time before I'm able to feel normal again and a period of time after that before they're confident I can perform at the elite level without additional risk. Head injuries are tricky in terms of mapping out recovery time and it's possible that I may not be able to pull the jersey on all year. I want to thank my family, friends, fans, sponsors and the WSL for their ongoing support."