Layne Beachley Speaks About Stephanie Gilmore’s ‘GOAT’ Status - Women's Health

Layne Beachley Speaks About Stephanie Gilmore’s ‘GOAT’ Status

At the WSL finals event in California, many are tipping Gilmore to take the title. In doing so, Gilmore would become the most successful woman in pro surfing history.

by | Sep 10, 2021

It’s been a big few months for Aussie golden girl, Steph Gilmore. After taking part in surfing’s Olympic debut, the star surfer is now set to compete at the iconic Californian break at Lower Trestles for the World Surf League final. Should Gilmore win the title, it will mark her record eighth world title at the inaugural one-day event as she becomes the most successful woman in pro surfing history. 

But while such an achievement is certainly one to celebrate, in professional sport, you often wonder about those who have come before an athlete, who have in many ways paved the way forward, fought for the women’s titles on the world stage, and served as role models and inspiration. One such person is Layne Beachley, an icon and surfing phenomenon both in Australia and around the world. Beachley is already a member of the Surfing Hall of Fame, having won six consecutive world titles between 1998 and 2003 to be an unrivalled record, but in a recent interview with The Guardian, Beachley was all heart. She spoke at length about Gilmore’s impact on the sport and was adamant that Gilmore deserves the ‘GOAT’ status. 

“She’s already referred to as the GOAT,” said Beachley to the publication. “I don’t know how many more times she’s going to have to win before she truly lays claims to that. She’s already the GOAT and I’m not sure another world title will change that at all.”

Even before Gilmore joined the ASP World Tour in 2007 and stunned the competition to win four of eight events and claim the world title in her debut season, she was already making herself known in surfing and wasted no time in getting her name out on the international stage. It was clear that Gilmore would always be chasing Beachley’s record. “Steph made that declaration when she first joined the tour,” Beachley admits. “She declared to me that she saw me as a stepping stone. She already had her ambitions of winning 10 world titles, not seven.”

 

In the time that has elapsed since, Gilmore has gone on to defend her maiden title in 2008, 2009, and 2010, before later success in 2012 and 2014. Her most recent came in 2018, but now all eyes are once again on Gilmore as she takes to the WSL’s high-stakes finals. While it’s clear that in surfing, anything can happen, all eyes will be on Gilmore as she takes to the event and the conditions in San Clemente. Gilmore will have to win three heats against the best surfers in the world before going up against top seed Carissa Moore in the title decider. 

It’s a hard run to the final, but Beachley has full confidence in our Aussie superstar. “She does have the hardest run to the final, but she’s also the most experienced in the field,” says Beachley. “So she’s got plenty going for her. She’s in scintillating form and she’s still extremely competitive and passionate about it so I’ve no doubt she’ll go around another year if she’s unable to fulfil her dream and potential this year.”

Known as the “smiling assassin,” Gilmore’s passion for surfing shines through whenever she takes to the water. While it certainly is a momentous milestone that she will be chasing, it goes without saying that medals and rewards aren’t what motivates Gilmore, rather she does it for the love of surfing alone. It’s something Beachley knows all too well. “Steph is the only surfer I know who exudes sheer joy when she paddles into a wave,” says Beachley. “She’s so passionate and driven and fierce, but she does it with immense grace, beauty and style, both in and out of the water. She’s my inspiration in so many ways.”

By Jessica Campbell

Jess is a storyteller committed to sharing the human stories that lie at the heart of sport.

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