Former Pipe Master, Triple Crown Champion and long-time WorldSurfLeague (WSL) competitor Bede Durbidge has accepted the role ofSurfingAustraliaElite Program Manager in a major boost to Aussie medal hopes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
After coaching Hawaiian John John Florence in his world title winning 2016 campaign, he said his focus is now building on already strong relationships withAustralianathletes and coaches with gold medals the goal.
Durbidge, who incredibly returned to elite level competition at the beginning of the 2017 season after a life-threatening injury suffered in late 2015 at the Pipe Masters, will begin his new role in early 2018 and will officially retire from competitivesurfingat the conclusion of theAustralianWSL leg in Margaret River in 2018.
The primary purpose of this new role is to ensure there is high quality daily training environment, coaching, and competition solutions available for nationally identified elite athletes who will form part of theAustralianOlympic Squad to be announced in January 2018.
The role will work closely with high performance coaches working with nationally identifiedsurfersacross the network and will lead theAustralianOlympicSurfingTeam at the key benchmark event the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
“I’m honoured to take on this role as Elite Program Manager. Coaching is something I’m so passionate about and to be able to work withAustralia‘s best athletes and coaches I’m just relishing the opportunity. I feel I have fulfilled my competitivesurfingdream and next year will be perfect timing to transit into this role. It’s a very exciting time insurfingand the Tokyo Olympics will come around before we know it.Australiahas a great chance of winning the first gold medals insurfingso preparation will be key over the next few years,” said Durbidge.
With WorldSurfLeague men’s world tour victories at the 2006 Boost Mobile Pro at Trestles, the 2007 Rip Curl Pipeline Masters in Hawaii and the 2008 Hang loose Santa Catarina in Brazil, the North Stradbroke Island legend knows what it takes to win at the elite level.
Three time Men’s World Champion Mick Fanning was stoked to hear the news his good friend and tour mate Durbidge would play a critical role in theAustralia’s Olympic history come 2020.
“I’m extremely happy that Bede is the new Elite Program Manager. Knowing Bede on a professional and personal level I think he’s the perfect person for the job. He’s been one of the most dedicated athletes on tour and an amazing tactician so he’ll be able to help out in so many different areas. Bede is very willing to do the hard yards and will cover all bases when it comes to planning all programs for our athletes. He’s a man I respect immensely for many different reasons and I thinkAustralianSurfingwill feel the benefits of having him on-board,” said Fanning.
SurfingAustraliaCEO Andrew Stark said someone with Durbidge’s credentials and personality were perfectly suited to the newly created role.
“This is a critical role that will be instrumental towards our Olympic campaign. Bede is an amazing athlete and coach and has immense credibility and respect from all theAustralianWorld TourSurfersand their respective coaches and will be an amazing asset to our high-performance team. Bede will be the key and constant communicator with our Olympic Squad to ensure that ourAustralianteam athletes are at their absolute best in Japan in the moment of the first ever OlympicsurfingGold Medals,” said Stark.
SurfingAustraliaChair and seven time Women’s World Champion Layne Beachley said Durbidge’s appointment would only bolsterSurfingAustralia’s strong elite program as we head for success in Japan Olympics.
“This is a major coup forSurfingAustralia, our High-Performance program and our athletes as we edge closer to the Olympic Games in 2020. To achieve success, you must surround yourself with the best and Bede is the perfect choice for the role given his competitive record, coaching success, and resilience to overcome life threatening injuries. Bede is a wonderful addition to the team and I am excited to work with him to achieve our shared vision of Gold in Tokyo, “said Beachley.
AustralianSports Commission CEO Kate Palmer welcomed the announcement.
“TheAustralianSports Commission and AIS has a very strong partnership withSurfingAustraliaand we’ve been encouraged by their organisational progress in recent years, in participation initiatives as well as high performance.
“The inclusion ofsurfingin the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is exciting for the sport and we shareSurfingAustralia’s ambition to challenge the world’s best for the inaugural Olympic medals.
“It’s fantastic to see thatSurfingAustralia’s development pathways will enable an accomplished athlete like Bede to continue his involvement in the sport, passing on his experience and expertise to others in this high-performance role.”
AustralianOlympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll was quick to back Durbidge’s appointment and the directionSurfingAustraliawill now take towards Tokyo 2020.
“Surfingis one of five sports added to Tokyo 2020 Games and this is a great appointment to kick-startsurfing’s Olympic high-performance program in preparation of the sport’s Olympic debut in just under three years’ time,” said Carroll.
“The sport has long been ingrained inAustralianculture which has helped us to produce numerous men’s and women’s world champions. We now look forward to seeing ourAustraliansurfingcontingent continue to succeed under the guidance of Durbidge and the new elite program put in place bySurfingAustralia.”
This important announcement comes only weeks afterSurfingAustraliacompleted an extensive and rigorous review of its high-performance program with a view to ensure the organisation is set up to maximise its chances to achieve the first eversurfingGold medal in the 2020 Olympic Games.
The extensive review process undertaken over the month of June engaged a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders, included elitesurfingathletes, elitesurfcoaches, and other Olympic sport athletes, CEO’s and Performance Directors and Head Coaches.
Further announcements about the new structure and subsequent appointments will be released in coming weeks.