- WSL / Damien Poullenot

This year will mark Sally Fitzgibbons' 12th season on the Championship Tour and with a crop of youngsters inspired by her career now nipping at her heels, by her own admission she isn't done yet.

"The more they push to want to reach their goals the longer I want to push to stay around," she says. "I want to keep up with these kids and so the more I can surround myself with them the better it is for me."

In arguably the best shape of her life after preparing for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and a forced break from competition last season, the 30-year-old is fizzing with excitement and sees the upcoming Australian leg as an opportunity to capitalize on her home-court advantage.

PENICHE, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 20: Sally Fitzgibbons of Australia advances to the quarter finals of the 2019 MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal after winning Heat 3 of Round 3 at Supertubos on October 20, 2019 in Peniche, Portugal. (Photo by Laurent Masurel/WSL via G Heading into her 12th season on Tour, most of them with her dad by her side, Sally Fitzgibbons is looking to an upgraded bag of tricks and fresh mindset to help her catch that illusive Title. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I feel I'm in a really good position to perform when our World Tour events come around because we're at home. Whether it's groms, juniors, or the QS we've grown up doing events at Merewether and Narrabeen."

"I'm kinda licking my chops, I'm really excited and I think the WSL will be excited just to see the Tour start back up, get some momentum, and no doubt they will crown a champ this year."

A World Title still eludes Fitzgibbons, finishing runner-up three years in a row -- 2010, 2011, and 2012, twice behind countrywoman and seven-time world champ, Stephanie Gilmore. However, Fitzgibbons believes she can finally shake the bridesmaid tag and make 2021 her year.

"Yeah, I think it's totally doable. It's got a good ring to it and I'd love to make it happen," she says. "For me, it's a feeling you get when you show up to these events that you have the surfing in the tank that will get you there and that's the hard part."

TWEED HEADS SOUTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Sally Fitzgibbons of Australia placing second in quarterfinal heat 3 of the Tweed Heads Pro to be eliminated from the competition on September 14, 2020 in Tweed Heads South, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/Wor Fitzgibbons ditching the fins at the Tweed Heads Pro last September. - WSL / Matt Dunbar

"To keep coming back with that next level and I do truly feel that I've got the surfing in there and now, I just have to meet the opportunity and away we go," she continues.

After a Hawaiian season that was cut short due to the postponement of competition, Fitzgibbon is returning to the competitive arena this weekend in Sydney at the Mad Mex Maroubra Pro QS 1,000. She sees it as a chance to take risks with some of the bigger maneuvers she's been working on and warm-up ahead of the Tour making its way Down Under.

"This is the ultimate training event for me," Fitzgibbons explains. "I really want to push that envelope and know when to take risks either way whether they work out or not. I want to see that opportunity under pressure and the more chances I get to look at it I think the more times I'll take it."

Despite being a QS 1,000, the Tour veteran still treats each event with the same steely focus as a CT and knows that the field will be motivated to take her down.

"It's definitely a case of treating it like they are all World Tour competitors. Just surrounding yourself with people that are hungry to be on Tour with us when you hop in there it's a pit of piranhas," she laughs.

"Everyone is going to push each other and that's what I need to get prepared for the Aussie events but especially for somewhere like Tokyo where it's going to be beach break conditions and probably pretty grovely on some days. I just want to have the most experience I can this year leading into that."

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