"I do believe I'll be a World Champion," Macy Callaghan told her local newspaper, the Express Advocate, two years ago. "And I just want to get there already."
The Avoca surfer was only 14 years old at the time, but it showed the depth of her ambition. When she won the World Junior Championships at Kiama in January this year, it also showed that her ambition was not misplaced. Callaghan is easily one of the sport's brightest prospects, and while she's still only 16, has embarked on her plan for world domination.
The blueprint began well, as she juggled the start of her 11th-grade studies with a winning spree over the Australian leg of the Qualifying Series. She logged a QS1000 win at the Carve Pro at Maroubra, another at the Kommunity Project Great Lakes Women's Pro and a runner-up at the Flight Centre Burleigh Pro. Her biggest result, though, was a Semifinal placing at the Anditi Women's Pro, the QS 6000 held in Newcastle. In the months that followed, she added two more Australian Junior Tour event titles, to take her tally to five wins and seven podium finishes.
However, Callaghan had bigger targets in her sights as she left Avoca to compete on her first full-time year on the QS. While junior wins and QS1000 success are definite signs of success, it's a different test when you hit the road and take on battle-hardened QS competitors month-in, month-out.
At the halfway stage of the year, she has so far passed the test. A 9th place at the Los Cabos Open of Surf, backed up her big Newcastle result, pushed her up to No. 8 on the QS rankings. That's impressive enough, but carries even more weight when you look at the other surfers in that top rung.
Five of the top 10 on the QS rankings are currently on the elite CT, and the remaining have all qualified in the past. Callaghan is the only QS rookie and the only teenager in the mix. That she is within touching distance from qualification is a testament not only to her talent, but to her ability to cope with the rigors of traveling the world, still two years away from graduating high school.
With only two QS6,000 events remaining this season -- the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro, which kicks off at Oceanside this week, and the Sydney International Pro at Cronulla in November -- one more solid result could see her over the qualification line and competing at the highest level in 2018.
In fact it seems more of a matter of timing, rather than talent, when she finally cracks the CT. A good indicator of her current readiness will come at the Swatch Women's Pro at Trestles -- the next CT women's event, after the VUSOS -- where Callaghan will be competing as a wildcard. That will be her first experience of surfing on the CT and while there will be little pressure, it is an opportunity to test her mettle against the world's best, and to perform on surfing's biggest stage.
Regardless, however, of how she does there, Callaghan's extraordinary 2017 has proven that she is a surfer of exceptional ability and one that is determined to go all the way. She's already bagged one World Title, this could be the start of something remarkable.
Catch Callaghan next at the vans US Open of Surfing, running live daily from July 31 - Aug. 6.