It was a nightmare 2015 that almost made a six time World Champion pull the pin on a glittering career. But the fire is back in Stephanie Gilmore's eyes, as she continues her return to competitive surfing at the Taggart Pro in Newcastle.
After a serious knee injury at last year's Margaret River Pro put her out of the sport for eight months, Gilmore came through her first heat on Thursday as she looks to bounce back.
"To have my very first heat of 2016 feels really good. I really missed it," Gilmore said.
"I had a lot of time off last year and I sort of watched from the computer screen or whatever and I was jealous at times, which was a good thing, because it reminded me how much I loved competing."
"I guess there are times when you consider other ways, but I love competing, I love the performance," she said.
"I love everything that goes into an event, all the emotions, the excitement, the nerves and being on a stage competing in front of fans is thrilling so I wouldn't really trade it. So long as I love it, I'll do it."
The opening event of the Surf World League season is just under a month away at Snapper Rocks, so check out how Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons and the rest of Australia's elite women are going with the live stream from the WSL http://www.worldsurfleague.com/events/2016/wqs/1389/taggart-womens-pro/live
Ok, so technically it's Monday, but they are worth making the list! The Matildas Olympic campaign kicks off on Monday evening with the toughest of challenges against Japan, in a repeat of the 2015 World Cup Quarter-Final.
There's no Larissa Crummer for Alen Stajcic's side, with Canberra's Ashleigh Sykes drafted into the squad, while for Katrina Gorry the heartache of last year’s World Cup exit is providing extra motivation ahead of the match.
"Obviously losing to them in the quarter final has been tough for a lot of us, a bit disappointing,” Gorry said.
“We’re just trying to focus on that game and hopefully come out with a win.
“We need to have the belief throughout the whole team to beat Japan and then follow through and beat the other nations as well.”
The Matildas must finish in the top two at the six-nation tournament, where they will play five games in quick succession.
Gorry acknowledged the difficult task which awaits the Matildas but remains confident Australia has the quality to qualify for the Olympics for the first time since 2004.
“We know it’s a massive tournament for us and we’re playing teams that are pretty much all in the World’s top ten,” Gorry said.
“We haven’t qualified for a very long time. But knowing that you could be going to the Olympics if you play good football and you win your matches then I think that’s a pretty big prize at the end of the pathway.”
7 Mate will show The Matildas matches starting at 9.35pm (AEDT) on Monday.
It's crunch time on the Taekwondo mat, as the Oceania Olympic Qualification kicks off in Papua New Guinea on Saturday. In the women's less than 57kg category it's win or bust for Caroline Marton.
It's a family affair this weekend with Marton's younger sister Carmen, World Champion in 2013 also competing, as is Carmen's husband Safwan Khalil.
No Australians managed to book a spot via the World Taekwondo Federation rankings posted in December following the World Grand Prix final, and Caroline knows what is at stake this weekend.
"No pressure but I need to win gold to make the team to Rio. It is a cliché but I want to make my country proud. Time to implement all my training, both physically and mentally."
The WNBL has hit the Finals, and all eyes will be on the Minor Premiers, the Townsville Fire in Sunday's Major Semi-Final against the Perth Lynx.
The spark for the Fire this season has been Cayla George, as the rebound ace has combined with Triple league MVP and competition leading scorer Suzy Batkovic to deadly effect.
George finished as the league’s top rebounder with an impressive 12.1 per game was also second in scoring for the Fire (14.1) points as she finished the 24-game regular season with 17 double doubles.
“It’s an effort thing, you don’t have an off rebounding night because it just comes down to effort,” she said.
“I really do try to make that my focus, defence and rebounding, and from that positive offence can flow for me and for the entire team.
“I try not to ever focus on offence going into a game, you get what you get when it comes and I’m more free flowing when I focus on those two areas.”
Tip Off in Townsville is at 3pm on Sunday.