Julian Wilson is on day 10 of a 14-day stay in hotel quarantine when I call. It's his second stint in less than six months, a requirement imposed for anyone traveling back into Australia from abroad.
He sounds tired. Possibly from the boredom of isolation or maybe from the gruelling fitness regime he's inflicting upon himself. He's trying to pass the time by sharpening his body ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games where he'll be competing and representing Australia as surfing makes its debut.
"I've been training hard every day I've been in here," he says. "I've been able to get a treadmill, a rower, and a spin bike. The days have been going pretty quick thankfully."
The 32-year-old Australian is looking to rebound from a season that has fallen well short of the results we've come expect from the multiple CT winner and perennial world title threat.
He's lost close heats against Rookie Morgan Cibilic who has had a barnstorming year and eliminated him from two events. He then opted to sit out the Jeep Surf Ranch Pro presented by Adobe to focus on his Olympic campaign which leaves him sitting No. 17 on the rankings.
"I've been somewhat disappointed with my results so far but I definitely feel like I've been working through it," admits the veteran. "I felt like I was finding my feet again at Rottnest and had my best result so far."
"I think it just hasn't been a great year for me so far but I still love the challenge and feel like I've found something recently to show up and be better and win these heats and contest for event wins. I'm looking forward to the Mexico and Tahiti events after the Olympics."
Wilson reveals chasing the world tour this season has had its ups and downs.
"I've felt a lot of concern around the commitment to the time away from my family chasing the dream of a world title which has been a primary focus of mine for a long time now. But obviously, there's a bigger priority of factors now as my career gets further along."
Cancelling of events, schedule changes, the new event stops, the Olympics, and the unavoidable stints of hotel quarantine have been challenges many Aussies on tour have faced. For Wilson, straddling the responsibilities of being a husband and parent to two young children while trying to stay focused and surfing his best has been a rollercoaster ride of emotions.
"You know those moments have been pretty hard to deal with for me just with my personal goals being a competitor then with my responsibility and my number one goal in life of being a parent and being a husband."
"So, it's been a testing time but I appreciate it has been for everyone and everyone has to make their own sacrifices. But yeah, I've had a hard time processing those decisions this year."
But the mention of the Olympics in less than four weeks immediately shifts his mood. He sounds excited as he talks about what it means to represent Australia on the world stage and the opportunity to surf for Olympic Gold.
Wilson along with teammates Owen Wright, Sally Fitzgibbons, and seven-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore got their first taste of what they can expect earlier this month at ISA Games in El Salvador. Despite the team finishing fifth overall, the team-bonding experience put the wind in their sails.
With the countdown for Tokyo well underway Wilson knows that the Olympics is an opportunity for redemption. But he will have to take on a Brazilian storm of world champions Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira, arguably the favourites to take gold. While Japan's Kanoa Igarashi will be expected to perform and let's not forget about two-time world champ John John Florence.
The Australian surfing team has been officially named The Irukandjis after the extremely venomous species of jellyfish that inhabit Australian marine waters. The Irukandjis name was provided by the local Yirrganydji people of North Queensland. And after such a challenging season, Wilson will be eager to sting his rivals with a career-defining performance.