Seven minutes. One wave. Third place. A National title I’d worked hard towards was in my grasp.
What is it, in situations like these, that brings out a different side to you? That brings out your full potential, testing your limits and pushing you to achieve the unachievable?
What is this strange force inside us that we call determination? It’s defined as the quality of being determined; firmness of purpose. But I believe it is more than just a quality, it is a force we all hold inside of us, one that comes out right when we need that extra push in our lives, whether it be at work, finishing a test, running that extra kilometer, or, in my case, catching a wave to win a National Title.
I always hear people telling themselves, “I’m not good enough, I’m not ready to do that”. I believe that if everyone waited until they were ‘ready’ or ‘good enough’ to do things nothing would ever be achieved.
At age 14, my Mum signed me up for my first big competition and I was nowhere near ready. I didn’t even think I would be able to get out the back of the waves – but I was not afraid of failure. I think that all women, young and old, need to hear that message. Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t wait until you are ‘ready’ to go and pursue your dreams; just give it a good shot with a positive, never-give-up attitude. If I waited until I was ready, I wouldn’t have entered all the competitions I’ve done in the last three years, nor achieved everything I have as result.
In 2018, I made it to the final of the National Titles as the youngest of four competitors, all with many more years experience than me. I was the underdog for sure, a 16-year-old competing in the Open Women’s Division; giving Nationals a crack. The one last piece of advice from my dad before I paddled out was, “Go and get busy, you have 25 minutes and 12 waves.”
I took this advice a little too far: I used 11 of my waves, and, with seven minutes of the heat still to go, I was in third place. At this point I began to doubt myself, I had hoped to improve my 2017 result of third and things weren’t looking good. But, I kept my positive mindset and was not afraid of failure – and that’s when determination kicked in. I still had one chance to better last year’s position. The odds were against me but I didn’t let that bring me down; I never gave up. Then, with 30 seconds left on the clock, I used my last chance up, taking off on the last wave, a clean roll right on the ‘end of the heat’ buzzer. The judges put the competition on hold while they gave their final scores. I was waiting on the beach when I heard them announce that my wave score was not only enough to improve my position to second place, it was enough to move me from third to first! I could not believe it. And, just when I thought my day couldn’t get any better, I was presented with the Spirit of Bodyboarding award and trophy at the presentation ceremony. This was not only out of the women’s division, but the WHOLE competition, including all the men!
This experience was one I will never forget. It also taught me a life lesson: don’t be afraid of failure, never give up, and always stay positive. Let determination take over to unlock your full potential.
Words by: Millie Chalker
Images by: Shane Chalker