What would it be like to finally achieve a long-term goal that you have passionately dedicated countless years in attaining? At just 18 years of age a local grommet gained a wildcard into the Billabong Pro in Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa. One by one, the heroic young man defeated the surfing world’s elite to achieve his first surfing title. To the surprise of many this was the beginning of Joel Parkinson’s, otherwise known as Parko, metaphoric rise to the very top of the surfing world. The story of his success is still unfolding and despite falling short six times as runner up, he strives with relentless determination towards winning the elusive ASP world surfing crown. Some 13 years later Parko finally returns home to share his trophy with the many who have embarked upon this emotional journey with him. As we sit under a beach gazebo, overlooking the famous surfing breaks of Snapper Rocks, hundreds of locals and tourists pass by, completely unaware that in their presence is the recently crowned 2012 ASP world surfing champion. Persistence in attaining perpetual good form was crucial in helping him finally achieve the pinnacle of his sporting career and clutching the world title from his long-term rival and friend Kelly Slater (who held the title for 11 straight years). With the adulation that comes with a world title one would expect celebrations to be ongoing for some time yet but they have now died down and he is happy relaxing with his family. His childhood sweetheart, Monica, has probably ridden as many emotional waves and succumbed to as many wipe-outs as Joel did during this epic surfing journey. Alongside their three children, Evie, Macy and Mahli, she remains his biggest fan and supporter of all. When quizzed on what keeps him grounded after such an amazing victory he replies: “I’ve got three kids- I’m a father, so I still play that roll too. So the kids keep me fairly grounded”. As a family the Parkinson’s are happy to sit at home for the day or stroll out for a day at the beach. “When we are on the road it’s a little bit hectic, so coming home is like a holiday for us,” says Joel. Throughout the interview what became apparent is Joel’s genuine first love- not surfing, but his family. While we chat, his son sits patiently observing and plays on dad’s iPhone (watching surfing videos) and his wife calls him on his phone about taking the girls to the dentist. Layers of our new world champion’s family life are starting to be revealed. Joel was a world champion in the eyes of those that he superbly played the role of father, husband and friend to in the Tweed Heads area long before he attained the ASP championship trophy. The upcoming year is looking to be yet another successful one for Parko as he resumes training with a burning desire to gain back-to-back titles. While we wish him every success, we remain proud that his persistence has already paid off, allowing him to win the championship in 2012. No matter what the following year holds for Joel, win or lose, it would be of comfort to him knowing that his family and friends support him. In our eyes he remains a successful sportsman and genuine person, despite being the guy who lives just down the road, surfs the local breaks and drinks at the local bar.
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