This Monday in Newcastle, Australia, Owen Wright will return to competition for the first time in more than a year. In December 2015, when he was in the midst of a world title race, the powerful Aussie surfer suffered a severe head injury while surfing Pipeline, on Oahu's North Shore. It forced him to withdraw from the Billabong Pipe Masters and later, the entire 2016 season. But now, after more than a year on the sidelines, Wright will finally be putting on a contest jersey and paddling out to compete.
"The WSL is pleased to confirm that Owen Wright will return to competition at this year's QS6000 Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro in Newcastle," said WSL Commissioner Kieren Perrow. "Since his injury in Hawaii in December of 2015, the WSL has worked closely with Wright, his physicians and the sport's medical committee to ensure that, if he were to return to competition, his health and well being would take priority.
"Owen has passed his own physician's medical review and has received the WSL medical committee's approval to compete in Newcastle. Following the Newcastle event, all parties will reconvene to discuss whether Owen wishes to accept the WSL wildcard to commence the 2017 CT season."
Wright's medical clearance for Newcastle is just his latest milestone after a year of big challenges and big celebrations. Last March, he was on hand for an emotional day when his little sister, Tyler Wright, won the Roxy pro Gold Coast. In October, he had even more to celebrate, when she clinched her first World Title. And perhaps the biggest occasion was most recently, when he welcomed his first child to the world.
For his next big moment, however, it will be Wright's fans who have something to celebrate. Catch him live when the Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro kicks off, running Feb.20 - Feb. 26.