IN December last year, surfing at any level was the furthest thing from Glyndyn Ringrose’s mind when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Ringrose, who last appeared on the world tour in 2000, described the ensuing four months as a “bit of a rollercoaster”.
“I went surfing one morning and strained myself a little bit around the groin area and it felt like someone had flicked my testicle,” he said.
“It didn’t feel quite right so I went and saw the doctor a week later and he got alarmed straight away and pretty much sent me straight to emergency.
“Eventually they said it was cancerous so I had to have an operation to remove it.
“That gave me a thought pattern that life is more than dying right there because I had more to live.”
His performance at the Rip Curl Pro on Sunday proved anything can happen.
After a 17 years in the surfing wilderness, the former Port Macquarie surfer was back doing what he does best.
Instead of unwrapping Easter eggs with his family, the 44-year-old was at Bells Beach testing himself against 2016 world champion and current world number one John John Florence.
If that wasn’t daunting enough, he found himself in the same heat as current world number 14 Jeremy Flores.
It came after he claimed a wildcard to the event from winning the Visit Victoria trials last week.
“Getting into it was one thing, but the next mental hurdle was lifting and trying to compete at the same level as these guys who are professional athletes and do this for their job day in, day out,” he said.
After attending school at Westport high, Ringrose and his parents moved to the Victorian town of Mansfield – 180 kilometres north-east of Melbourne when he was in year 10.
He has been a stranger to the Hastings for 25 years.
But he looks forward to his annual migration north to the Gold Coast via Port Macquarie every year for the Quiksilver Pro.
Life is more than dying right there because I had more to live.
“We lived at Lighthouse Beach and I’ve been super blessed with a great training ground in Port,” Ringrose said.
“It gave me those fast, running waves and learning a technique that was suited to that.
“When I moved to Victoria I got a lot more longer, running point and reef breaks. The beach breaks gave me a huge step forward.”
In 2000, he fell off the world tour and found himself regularly attempting to re-qualify.
“I always was one placing out,” Ringrose said.
“I probably tried to qualify six or seven times in that time. I’d always been right on the cusp, but they’d wanted to give it to the younger guys.
Getting into it was one thing, but the next mental hurdle was lifting and trying to compete at the same level as these guys who are professional athletes.
“They didn’t want to give it to an old bloke like me.”
The 44-year-old was far from disappointed at his second-round exit at Bells Beach.
“I made mistakes because I’m only human – especially in the second heat – and I should have known better especially at Bells because I surfed it a lot,” he said.
“But that’s life, we continue to learn and I’m stoked to have even had the opportunity.”