Reset moment still driving Olympic surfer Sally Fitzgibbons

Australian Institute of Sport
  • New AIS series on IGTV, AIS Reset, launched to hear inspiring stories from athletes who have had to overcome defining moments in their lives and careers.
  • Just weeks before her Olympic Games debut, champion surfer Sally Fitzgibbons has revisited the 2015 moment that still drives her success, as part of the new IGTV series on Instagram called AIS Reset.

    The AIS Reset IGTV series was born out of the challenges athletes and those around the world are now facing, including how athletes have had to reset after the postponement of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    In each episode of the AIS Reset IGTV series, one of Australia’s leading athletes will focus on a career and life defining moment that has forced them to ‘reset’ goals and describe how that experience has shaped them as a person and as an athlete.

    Fitzgibbons details her AIS Reset moment in 2015, when she perforated her eardrum during a terrifying wipeout in the early rounds of the Women’s Fiji Pro at the infamous Cloudbreak. Despite the injury badly affecting her balance and being in pain, Fitzgibbons covered her ear with blu-tac, wrapped her head with bandages and pushed on to take out the title. She carried on competing that season in a helmet.

    Fitzgibbons still carries a heart-shaped piece of coral as a memento of the triumph and uses it to remind her of the strength she showed complete her goals when everything was against her.

    “That was the moment when I was truly at the bottom of the barrel,” said Fitzgibbons.

    “Any time that you have to reset or change direction is a scary moment. Every time I get to a moment now, I’m like ok, I’ve got the ability and the choice to take one more small step forward and reset. And you’ve just got to keep doing it.

    “To take me back to that place gives me even more strength to keep spring boarding forward.”

    The AIS Reset series is presented by the AIS People Development and Wellbeing team, which focuses on areas such as athlete mental health, wellbeing and community engagement.

    “The past few years have presented unique challenges to everyone, including our elite sportspeople,” said AIS Director Matti Clements.

    “However, these moments that make us pause, reflect and reset can become our biggest sources of inspiration. I thank all the athletes for taking part in this AIS Reset series. By sharing these stories, they can have an impact, inspiring other athletes and Australians.”

    To hear more about Sally’s reset moment and the role it will play in her quest for Olympic glory in Tokyo, visit the AIS Instagram page,

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