Whatever criteria you choose, Layne Beachley, seven-time ASP Women’s World Champion, is one of Australia’s greatest athletes. Having spent two decades breaking down barriers in her chosen sport, she has also committed herself for making it easier for young women to achieve their goals in their chosen fields – provided, of course, they have the will and the work ethic.
Born in 1972 and given up for adoption by her 17-year-old mother, Layne lost her adoptive mother when she was just six. She credits her adoptive father, Neil, and women including ‘Nana’ Joan Tate, with filling the void. At the age of seven, upon discovering she had been adopted, Layne decided she was going to prove her worth by being the best in the world at something – and it wasn’t long before that something became surfing.
As a 16 year old, Layne made her debut on the ASP Women’s World Tour and, by the time she was 20, she was ranked number 6 in the world. At this point in her career, Layne embarked upon a physical training regime that would set her apart from every other woman pro of the last two decades.
Winning her first event in 1993, Layne’s fierce commitment to success came at a price. In 1993 and 1996, she faced the mental, physical and emotional challenges of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, also leading to depression. The mental toughness required to overcome such adversity became the foundation for achieving the goal she set herself at the age of seven – becoming a world champion.
In 1998, Layne’s determination and focus paid off and she achieved the first of 6 consecutive world titles. A rare feat in any sport, Layne’s domination of women’s surfing has earned her a place in sporting history.
Layne’s competitive drive is now present both in and out of the water. With the launch of the Beachley Athletic brand for women , Layne is a budding entrepreneur; willing to learn and dedicated to success. In 2006, Layne staged the richest event in women’s surfing history; the Havaianas Beachley Classic at Manly Beach, Sydney. A huge success, the event has the NSW Government’s support for a further two years.
Media savvy and ever entertaining, Layne is regularly sought by the media for her quick wit and insight. Her unswerving commitment to the betterment of women’s surfing has also been felt by the ASP, pro surfing’s governing body. As the lone female board member for several years, Layne was steadfastly committed to ensuring that women enjoyed the same opportunities and conditions in the sport as the men.
In addition to her surfing and business commitments, Layne created the Aim for the Stars Foundation in 2003 to support and help young women across Australia realize their dreams in fields as diverse as academia, sport, the arts and culture (http://www.aimforthestars.com.au/).
At the conclusion of the 2008 ASP Women’s World Tour, Layne announced her retirement from full-time professional surfing. Following this announcement, Layne’s achievements and contributions to sport and the community have been recognised through the following awards:
- Legendary Performer of the Year at the Sports Performer of the Year Awards (judged by a panel of Fairfax Sports Journalists)
- NSW Government Woman of the Year finalist
- Australian of the Year nominee.
The constant in all of the above, is the conviction that there are no boundaries when it comes to realising one’s potential.