As reported on www.smh.com.au
THE seven-time women’s world surfing champion Layne Beachley has the sunny confidence that goes with living life in public.
Yet her struggle to stay on the professional circuit has been a two-decade-long open book interrupted by chronic fatigue, the break-up of her relationship with her Hawaiian big-wave-riding mentor, the shattering discovery of her biological mother and accompanying fears of losing her after the deaths of her adoptive mother and then her stepmother.
But through it all, the Australian champion kept one secret: she was born after her mother was the victim of date rape.
“One of the things I wanted to know when Mum first made contact was, ‘Well, who is my dad?’ ” Beachley said yesterday. “Mum said, ‘Well, I was raped and I really don’t know who he is.’ ”
It was 1999 when Beachley met her mother, Maggie Gardner. Then, in 2004, Beachley was signing autographs at the TAB Australia Day Surfboard Challenge at Blues Point when a grey-haired man approached and handed her a photograph of himself and another man in a boxing ring, and a note with a phone number and the words: “Am I 32 years too late?”
Somebody stole the bag with the photo and she still doesn’t know if it was her father.
Now 36, Beachley tells of learning how she was conceived in a biography, Layne Beachley: Beneath The Waves, written by Michael Gordon. An extract from the book is in the Good Weekend in today’s Herald.
Beachley had met her mother just after winning the first of her world titles. Maggie Gardner told Beachley that when she was 17, and newly arrived in Sydney from Scotland in 1971, she was date-raped after she accepted a dinner invitation from the manager of a Kings Cross modelling agency.
“She was given two alternatives,” Beachley said.
Maggie Gardner chose to have the baby and gave birth at Crown Street Women’s Hospital in May 1972. She put her up for adoption and left town, first for New Zealand and then the US, where she married four times and had another daughter, Melissa.
Beachley said her biological grandmother told her former boyfriend, the Hawaiian surfer Ken Bradshaw, she was adopted out “because we didn’t want a bastard in the house”.
Beachley was adopted by a North Balgowlah couple and grew up on Manly Beach. She now lives at Freshwater. In December 1999, she announced she had found her birth mother; her six straight world titles ensured the story was widely reported in the media.