Image 1 for South Australian surf legend Kiwi White – outta hospital to win the Crescent Over 75 Division

Kiwi White winning the Over 75s at the recent Crescent Head Classic – thinking maybe that’s the only Over 75s Division in the world? Pic: Danny McGaw

Image 2 for South Australian surf legend Kiwi White – outta hospital to win the Crescent Over 75 Division

Kiwi, planning on hang around for the Over 85s. Pic: Danny McGaw

South Australian surf legend Kiwi White – outta hospital to win the Crescent Over 75 Division

12 June 19


Kiwi White isn’t exactly sure where he was exposed to the deadly asbestos that’s made him so ill — it could have been during any one of the dozens of jobs he did as a young man travelling in search of the perfect wave.

But somewhere along the line he breathed in the deadly fibres and is now getting his head around the fact that he has stage-four mesothelioma.

For some, the shocking diagnosis might have inspired anger or sorrow.

Kiwi used it as motivation to win a surfing contest, recently taking out what’s thought to be the only Over 75 category in the world at Crescent Head, NSW.

Kiwi competes in the Crescent Head Malibu Classic every year, but had to get the nod from his oncologist before heading north this time.

“I told her I wanted to go because it could be the last time,” he said.

“She said, ‘Just go, but make sure you stay warm — I don’t want you getting pneumonia’.”

Kiwi’s condition means he can’t paddle like he once did, so contest organisers arranged for him to be taken to the end of the point on a jet-ski while a younger surfer paddled his board into the line-up.

Once there, however, contest Kiwi got his old mojo back.

“The siren went, and within 10 seconds a wave came and I just went for it,” he said.

“I got up and surfed the first wave right into the point. I managed to do that four times, and there was a lot of hooting and cheering from the shore.”

At the end of the final Kiwi said many of the spectators were congratulating him on his “win”, however the results weren’t read out until that night’s presentation.

Once fellow South Australian and long-term contest rival Peter Cox’s name was read out for second place, Kiwi knew the trophy was his.

“The whole place just went beserk,” he says.

“And I got really emotional and started crying. I couldn’t believe it.”

While people with stage-four mesothelioma are usually given a life expectancy of around 12 months, Kiwi is responding well to treatment and says his doctors have been impressed with both his level of fitness and his attitude.

“Like I said at the presentation, I feel lucky to be able to compete in the Over 75s … but I plan to hang around for the first Over 85s,” he says.

 - AUTHOR: NATHAN DAVIES

 - SOURCE: ADELAIDE SUNDAY MAIL

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