Bede Durbidge announced today that, after the 2018 season, he will retire as a pro-athlete. He will instead become the Elite Program Manager for team Australia heading into the 2020 Olympics.
"In short, [my new role will be] getting the Australian team ready for Tokyo in 2020," Durbidge told the Gold Coast Bulletin. "And building a squad and working with their coaches and getting everyone in one room and building that culture to try and win gold medals.
"Right now on the Men's and the Women's [Championship] Tour, Australian athletes are leading. Looking at the ratings, you could say Australia has the best hope of winning gold. It is still a long way off -- two years -- but everyone will be champing at the bit."
An Australian native, Durbidge joined the Championship Tour in 2005 and reached a career-high rank of World No. 2 in 2008. The fact that Durbidge is competing at all this year is a testament to his fortitude and work ethic -- underscoring not just the longevity of competing at the highest level for more than a decade, but also his remarkable comeback from a near-fatal injury. Just under two years ago, during the 2015 Pipe Masters, Durbidge broke his pelvis in a violent wipeout, putting his life -- much less his career -- in jeopardy. During the 2016 season, Durbidge was back on his feet, far from competition-ready. Instead, he signed on as coach to John John Florence, who won his first World Title that season.
So far this year, the 34-year-old is back on the CT, going head-to-head with the best in the world yet again, and currently ranked No. 20 on the Jeep Leaderboard. In his retirement announcement, Durbidge acknowledged that he had been thinking of retiring in the next few years already, when Surfing Australia called.
"I thought I would stay on Tour for a few more years but this opportunity arose and I had to go for it," he told the Bulletin. "It is a perfect transition for me to retire and move into that role"
Durbidge competes next at the Billabong Pro Tahiti August 11-22.