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Seven Aussie Greats from the World Of Action Sports



No one country, athlete or movement can stake claim to being the catalyst of progress in action sports.  So we here at The Adrenalistthought it would only be fair to the sports themselves to take a look at the greatest athletes from each continent, because in order to appreciate the all-encompassing world of adrenaline, we must first come to know its various factions.  In this first installment of our global assessment, we stop down under in Australia, with its rich history of action junkies and thrill seekers.

  • 1. Mark Richards

    Mark Richards
    Its no wonder at all this island nation’s inhabitants are renowned for their prowess in the water with their year-round access to some of the most treacherous surf breaks found anywhere in the world. So naturally the island is going to play mother to some truly great ones at various points in history. On March 7, 1957 a truly special watermen was born by the name of Mark Richards. Born to a father who owned and operated one of the first surf shops in all of Australia, surfing left his mark on him from a very early age. And in turn Mark Richards went on to become the poster child of Australian surfing for many years, and is still one of the most respected surfers in the world today. Laying claim to five World Championships between 1957-82, Richards literally carved his way into the record books by designing and shaping a twin-fin style of surfboard that allowed him to charge the monster waves of Hawaii’s North Shore and show the rest of the world that Aussie surfers are second to none. For some vintage footage of Mark doing what he does best check out the video below:
  • 2. Ken Wallace

    Ken Wallace
    Born in Gosford, New South Wales, Ken (Kenneth) Wallace is a watermen of another sort. Putting himself and country on the global map by claiming the Gold medal in Beijing 2008, and again at the 2010 World Championships in Poznań, Poland, Wallace became a national celebrity in the sport of competitive canoeing. Sticking with the island nation’s history of water sport domination, Wallace took a hiatus from Iron Man competitions to make his foray in competitive canoeing and dominate the global scene. However, in his downtime Ken still finds the time to lifeguard full time for the Gold Coast City Council, which take it from the video below is no easy feat:
  • 3. Torah Bright

    Torah Bright
    Our first lady to make an appearance on this last has not only perpetuated the rich history of Australian domination in action sports, she’s managed to take it into sports in which they have never been before. Torah Bright, born in December 1986, is an Australian pro snowboarder who turned pro at the age of 14 and has since gone on to win gold medals in the superpipe at both the X Games and Olympics. The three-time gold medalist is the first Australian to ever win a Winter X Games gold medal, showing the world that Australia can compete on both land and water, in rain and snow. In 2010, Bright was chosen by her nation to carry the flag for Australia at the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, which solidified her as a national hero. For footage of her success check out the footage below:
  • 4. Shane Cross

    Shane Cross
    Unanimously regarded as the most talented skateboarder to ever come out of Australia, Shane Cross took the skating scene down under from obscurity and gave it a face with with they could rally around. In his brief but illustrious career as a pro skater Cross claimed the Slam title of “Skateboarder of the Year” and gave skating the resurgence Australia had been looking for. However, in 200y the world of skateboarding was robbed of one of the brightest starts it has ever known, and Cross perished in a motorcycle accident. Yet, behind him he leaves the legacy of reviving a sport for an entire continent that was fading into obscurity. To reflect on the greatness that once was check out the video below:
  • 5. Gary Ablett, Jr.

    Gary Ablett, Jr.
    Most people outside of Australia have heard of Aussie Rules Football yet the vast majority remains in the dark as to epic display of manliness that is the sport. Without summarizing it too crudely, footy, as its called natively, is a much faster paced form of rugby that requires a total machine of an athlete. First played in 1859, footy is over 100 years older than the NFL and thus many of the elements found in Aussie Rules can be found in our stateside form of football. The athletes must be of peak condition for the free-form, long-ranging nature of the game, enter Gary Ablett, Jr. Son to Gary Ablett, Sr. who was inducted into the AFL Hall Of Fame in 2005, Junior is pretty much the perfect specimen of athlete required to play the game, and in doing so has set the record for the highest ever received contract by an Aussie Rules player at $10 Million. With contracts of that magnitude being handed out the world can no longer stay in the dark about this sport, and with action like the video below I should think they would not want to:
  • 6. Tom Caroll

    Tom Caroll
    Born November 29, 1961 in Newport, New South Wales, Carroll immediately had an affinity for surfing and by ’79 he went pro. What was to follow were world championships in ’83 and ’84, however, his enduring legacy to Aussie surfing came in 1988 when he became the first ever surfer to secure a $1 Million contract. In total, Carroll claimed 26 career world victories, 2 world titles and would later be ranked by Surfer Magazine as the 7th Greatest Surfer Of All Time. But in setting that milestone in earnings he was able to pave the way for a future generation of world-class surfers and record breakers with names like Kelly Slater and Andy Irons. For proof of the greatness that is Tom Carroll check out the video below of him shredding Pipeline in 1988:
  • 7. Layne Beachley

    Layne Beachley
    Traditionally in surfing there’s a male bias, that females just don’t shred as hard as their male counterparts. However, if anyone believes that they have never met Layne Beachley. Nicknamed “Gidget,” Layne was born in May of 1972 in aptly named Manly, Australia. Turning pro at 16, Gidget took the entire surfing world by storm, claiming her first World Title in 1998, and then again in 1999, and then again in 2000, and then every year until 2003 (and then again 2006). Giving her seven World Championship titles, six of them in a row. She is one of the rare women to have competed in men’s competition, and why would anyone dare stop her? Her tour de force of the surfing world has been like nothing anyone has ever seen before. In addition to her world titles Layne lays claim to have ridden the largest wave by any woman from Australia when in 2009 she was towed into an epic swell at Aussie surf break ‘Ours.’ To get a sense of the sheer size, depth and power that break holds take a look at this video of her deep inside a barrel at ‘Ours’ in 2010:
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