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Layne Beachley on how childhood tragedy created a world champion

The greatest female surfer in history, Layne Beachley, has told Macquarie Sports Radio how childhood tragedy spurred her on to winning seven surfing world titles.

Speaking with David Morrow and Mat Thompson as part of their Heroes segment where they take a look at the lives and careers of Australian sporting legends Beachley said, “I lost my mother when I was 6 years old from a brain hemorrhage during a cosmetic surgery procedure which was devastating.

“That rocked my world of course.

“And then when I was eight years old that’s when my Dad told me I was adopted and I thought at that stage it’s a little too late to tell someone they’re adopted.

“What I learnt from that is I felt this deep yearning to prove that I was deserving of love because I had decided that because I was given away by my mother at birth that I wasn’t deserving of love.

“So I had wrapped up success in being deserving of love. I had defined being worthy of love by becoming the best in the world at something.”

In a wide ranging interview she spoke about everything from how she learnt how to surf by waiting for ferries to go by to her complex relationship with fellow surfing legend Kelly Slater.

The star surfer also revealed the extent to which the women’s side of the sport had changed:

“In regards to sponsorship, I was number two in the world in 1995 and I was working 60 hours a week working four different jobs earning $8,000 a year from my primary sponsor.

“Today [current world champion] Stephanie Gilmore earns $1.85 million in sponsorship and has never had a part time job.”

Listen to the full spellbinding interview below: