After a season that saw her sidelined by injury, Stephanie Gilmore is back and ready to fight for her seventh World Title.
"I hate losing," she said in an interview with the WSL. Truer words were never spoken.
This time last year, Gilmore was off to a solid start. She finished runner-up at the first two events, the 2015 Roxy Pro Gold Coast Coast and Rip Curl Pro Women's Bells Beach. But at the third, the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, things suddenly went south when she hurt herself during a freesurf. Visibly disappointed, Gilmore withdrew after Round 3. She went on to miss six events.
But now, after time to heal and reflect, the six-time Champ is philosophical about her time off.
"At any point in my career," she said, "if I've had a win and feel good and then I lose it the next year, it's what I need to get inspired and motivated to come back and win again."
Plus, not being able to surf meant that Gilmore sought out other diversions, developing other parts of her life. She traveled -- inland, no less -- for the first time ever and attended events around the world, including elegant parties like the Met Gala in New York City. Gilmore believes that being so active slowed her recovery, but it clearly didn't diminish her competitive spirit.
"I was still watching it, making sure that the girls weren't getting too far away," she said.
That time off also meant she had time to bring her fitness up, beyond where it was before. "I've probably spent more time in the gym than ever in my life. You can't always rely on natural talent. I'm injury-free and ready to get out there and do my thing."
No doubt, the rest of the Top 17 women on Tour will be keeping a close eye on Gilmore when she paddles out at Snapper Rocks. You can, too: Watch her competing at the 2016 Roxy Pro Gold Coast live on the WSL website and app daily through March 21.