Pain no barrier to Kirra conquest for Wilson
SURFING: His biggest challenge was overcoming the pain that screamed at Julian Wilson to stop torturing his injured shoulder.
But his biggest inspiration - the strength of his wife and the love for his baby girl - was stronger than any opponent.
Sunshine Coast surfer Wilson clinched the Quiksilver Pro and the World Surf League's No.1 ranking after beating fellow Aussie and great mate Ace Buchan in pumping waves at Kirra just six weeks after badly injuring his shoulder in a mountain bike accident.
Wilson paid tribute to chiropractor Chris Prosser for helping patch his separated shoulder back together to allow him to compete but it was the "dad strength” he gained from wife Ashley that allowed him to beat his mental demons.
"(Becoming a father) is the most special feeling I've ever felt in my life, a whole new level of responsibility but it's the most beautiful thing,” Wilson said.
"The birth of little Olivia, my hat goes off to all the women in the world.
"I've never experienced anything like that until I went through it, so it gave me great strength to come down here and just have a go.
"The first day of the event I woke up at 3.30am and got in the car and drove down (from the Sunshine Coast) for my heat and there was no way around it.
"After the experience I went through with my wife and watching the strength that she had, I really feel like I drew from that and (thought) what I'm about to do is not nearly as excruciating as what she'd gone though.”
That may have pulled him through to the finish but Wilson almost didn't make it to the starting line.
"I'd done five-and-a-half weeks of rehab and Chris Prosser came up to the Sunshine Coast and (worked with me),” he said.
"I started out in knee-high waves at Noosa Point on a soft-top mal and just was so happy with that and then three days later I found myself down here in four-to-six foot waves and getting thrown over the falls, so it was such a steep curve of progress.
"But I was never really too sure how it was going to pull up after each heat and it just held in there for me.”
Wilson was almost in tears at times this week as he pushed his ruptured AC joint to the limit.
"I learned a lot about myself this week, I came into the event maybe 75 per cent and was able to navigate my way through and come out on top,” he said.
"It makes me realise I'm going to have injuries and these things are going to happen but I don't always have to be 100 per cent to put on good performances.
"It gives me a lot of strength to call upon when I need it.
"I can't believe I'm coming out of the first event as No.1.”
Wilson has twice been in the running for the world title but only after overcoming a poor start in the Australian leg of the tour.
This season, he heads to Bells Beach wearing the yellow jersey with a new level of confidence.