Kelly Slater’s Reluctant Hand Off
Kelly passes the torch to Joel Parkinson
Joel Parkinson had won the world title. Kelly was at the foot of the podium standing directly next to the ASP trophy that he would not be receiving. It was an intense moment. Most of us could never dream of competing on the level that Kelly surfs. It’s simply unfathomable what he’s accomplished in his career. His heat against Shane Dorian just hours earlier was legendary—clutch performances like that are the reason why people watch competitive sports in the first place. Many people would kill just to nab a single wave at Pipeline as good as Kelly’s throwaway waves. But you can see it in Kelly’s eyes: there’s no glory for him in this moment. To Kelly, it’s simply about being second best, and it’s killing him. His trademark deal-sealing, high-scoring wave in the final moments of his semifinal heat simply never materialized. Title number 12 had just slipped through his hands. For that brief moment in time, Kelly was a broken hero. But rest assured, the experience will only exacerbate his drive for future wins. There is a subtext of humility, fallibility, loss, and perseverance in this scenario that we can all learn a lesson from.
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