New world surf champ hungry for more

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Joel Parkinson of Coolangatta, Australia pulls into the barrel at Pipeline on his road to claiming the world surfing title. Photo / AP
Joel Parkinson of Coolangatta, Australia pulls into the barrel at Pipeline on his road to claiming the world surfing title. Photo / AP

Less than 24 hours since being crowned the best surfer in the world, Joel Parkinson is already talking about his hunger for future titles.

The 31-year old Queenslander yesterday defeated 11-time world champ Kelly Slater at Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii to take his maiden ASP World Title.

"It probably sounds like I'm getting old for an athlete but part of me feels like I'm just getting started," Parkinson told AAP.

'Parko' and 40-year old Slater were the only surfers left in contention for the world title as the final day dawned on the North Shore of Oahu.

When Slater lost to Josh Kerr in the semi-final, Parkinson was handed victory. He paddled out into the final already as champion, but went on to cap the day off by claiming the Pipeline event as well.

"To become a Pipe Master and world champion is the ultimate. To do it all in one hit is everything I dreamed of," he said.

"It was intense but now there's just relief and I want to do it again. I wish I could get out and surf more heats right now."

It has been a long road for Parko, who has spent 12 years competing on a world surf tour which takes in some of the best locations around the globe each year.

He has been runner-up four times (2002, 2004, 2009, 2011) and has had to stand in the shadow of the likes of Slater, Mick Fanning and the late Andy Irons.

"Two of my life's ambitions just came true but I don't want it to be the end of anything."

Slater's two-decade-long dominance is an example that age shouldn't matter, Parko said.

"Kelly is 40 and he's still going strong. He's just put on one of the best ever shows at Pipe and he's finished second in the world.

"It shows that if you keep yourself fit and if you still have a love of surfing, there's no reason why you have to give it away. I love surfing more than I can describe."

Parko said he felt like he had to win Pipe to prove, at least to himself, that he deserved to be world champion.

"Now that's done, the pressure is off next year and hopefully every year after that.

"Bring on next year," he said.

Long-time friend and ex-world champ Mark Occhilupo predicted it could just be the start for Parko.

"The floodgates might open for Joel," Occhilupo said.

"He could have won a couple of world titles before this, but I think he'll win a couple more from now.

"When Joel can surf with freedom, look out. We might not have seen anything yet."

Parkinson has three months' rest now before he begins his world title defence at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast in March.

Parkinson's road to victory in 2012:
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast - 5th
Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach - 3rd
Billabong Rio Pro - 2nd
Volcom Fiji Pro - 9th
Billabong Pro Tahiti - 2nd
Hurley Pro at Trestles - 2nd
Quiksilver Pro France - 3rd
Rip Curl Pro Portugal - 3rd
O'Neill Coldwater Classic - 5th
Billabong Pipe Masters - Winner

- with AAP

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