Since the tender age of eight, Sally Fitzgibbons had her heart set on being a champion. She excelled in numerous sports, from soccer to touch football, but when it came to speed she literally ran circles around her competitors: As a teen, she was a track star.
But ultimately, among all her talents, Fitzgibbons found the most success in the water, making a run up the Qualifying Series to qualify for the Championship Tour in record time. And as soon as she arrived on Tour, she began making a dent: Her rookie year, Fitzgibbons finished runner-up to Stephanie Gilmore and instantly became a heavyweight on the elite tour.
It hasn't all been easy. In seven years on the CT, Fitzgibbons has yet to reach her goal of winning a World Title. The influx of fresh threats like Courtney Conlogue and Carissa Moore threw a curveball at what otherwise looked like a home run. And last year she suffered a career-low, finishing the season at World No. 8.
Yet, as Fitzgibbons reveals in this WSL profile, it's her work behind the scenes that has fired up her the most, and fueled a personal renaissance. Last year, even as her competitive results sagged, she spent her time outside of full-time competition reaching new professional heights. She created a fitness program, Train Like Sally, and has been working with young people to promote a healthy lifestyle. So far this year, that shift in focus has been paying off. Not only is her fitness level hitting a new high -- which is saying something when it comes to Sally -- but her spirit appears to have been renewed as well. As of the end of the Oi Rio Women's Pro, she's won one event, finished twice in third place and once in fifth. And in Fiji, where she has won twice, she just nabbed another third.
With spirits this high and the mental and physical foundation that she describes above, there won't be much that can stop her, in the water or out.