THEY were the simple words which triggered one of the most memorable and emotional sporting moments of the year. “O’Dog, see you in the finals’’.
Matt Wilkinson had the utmost faith his great mate Owen Wright could surf his way into the final of the Quiksilver Pro on Sunday and he wasn’t going to miss it for the world.
And for once, being beaten didn’t hurt quite as much as usual.
“We’ve been mates forever. We’ve been friends and rivals from when we were groms,’’ said Wilkinson, the man Wright beat in the world tour final at Snapper Rocks on Sunday to complete a fairytale return from a brain injury sustained in a wipe-out in late 2015.
“I wanted to share that moment with him. It’s unbelievable that we got to share that together.
“This is one of the most inspirational things I have seen.
“I can tell you, I definitely wasn’t lying down.’’
Wright said Wilkinson, in contention to win a maiden world crown early last season, has been by his side during his long recovery and rehabilitation from the brain trauma which sidelined him for over a year.
Wright also admitted he had doubted his own ability to win before his extraordinary victory in the opening event of the world surf tour.
“I had doubts and fears but I don’t any more,’’ Wright told the Daily Telegraph.
“Even halfway through February I wasn’t sure I could do this.
“I have no doubts now.’’
Originally published as Owen Wright, Matt Wilkinson’s special bond