Byron surfer with one leg headed to world championships
BYRON Bay surfer Mark "Mono" Stewart will be heading overseas to take on the best in the first ever ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships.
The long-time board rider has had to develop his own unique style of surfing after losing his right leg to osteosarcoma (bone cancer) at 15.
Given his impressive performance against able-bodied surfers in the past, representing Queensland in three Australian surfing titles, it's fair to say Mr Stewart, has a pretty good chance of picking up first place.
"It's nice to be going into a competition where the field is level-pegging so to speak," he said.
Mr Stewart, now 52, said the hardest part of competing on the world stage was managing the stress and pressure.
"The pressure's mainly coming from myself because I know what I can do and how I can surf I just hope I can do it during the contest," he said.
In the lead up the competition, Mr Stewart has been training at the Hurley Surfing Australia High Performance Centre at Casuarina Beach.
Mr Stewart said he would spend the three weeks before the event training eight hour days in Indonesia.
"Surfing around here's just a little too risky at the moment," he said. "And if you're spending a lot of time in the water your odds go up."
Mr Stewart said he would be joined by fellow Australian adaptive surfers Jade 'Red' Wheatley from Newcastle and Jake Matthews from Newport.
"When we get back we plan to set up and organisation through the ASA to develop the sport more," he said.
"There's a lot of amputees out there that get into the water through the disabled association but don't have a competitive side to it.
"For me personally, surfing in the water equals it up and you forget about your disability."
The International Surfing Association (ISA) has put in a formal bid to have the sport included in the Olympic Games.
Mr Stewart said he would be keen to compete in the Paralympics if surfing is included in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship will be held at La Jolla Shores in California from September 24 to 27.