Illawarra surfing champion Sally Fitzgibbons' famous busted eardrum is to be featured in a new series about the potentially devastating moments athletes have to overcome - and how that has helped forge their future successes.
Fitzgibbons, who will make her Olympic debut in a few weeks, is part of the video series from the Australian Institute of Sport called AIS Reset, which will be cast directly to social media app Instagram's video stream IGTV.
The 2015 moment at Cloudbreak in Fiji was Fitzgibbon's "reset moment", and the Gerroa product tells how she perforated her eardrum during a major wipeout in the early rounds of the Women's Fiji Pro tournament.
Medical advice was that she should withdraw from the tournament but Fitzgibbons, the defending Fiji Pro champion, had other ideas.
Despite the pain - which she described as "like someone punching a hole in your ear" - and the fact the injury was affecting her balance in a sport where balance is critical, the then 24-year-old Fitzgibbons pushed on. She sealed her ear with blu-tac, wrapped her head with bandages and entered the water for her heat the same day. Winning it, she went on to take out the Fiji Pro title - and carried on competing that season in a helmet.
Fitzgibbons still carries a heart-shaped piece of coral (Cloudbreak is at the heart-shaped island Tavarua in Fiji) as a memento of the triumph and uses it to remind her of the strength she showed to complete her goals when everything was against her.
"That was the moment when I was truly at the bottom of the barrel," she said.
"Any time that you have to reset or change direction is a scary moment. Every time I get to a moment now, I'm like 'OK, I've got the ability and the choice to take one more small step forward and reset'. And you've just got to keep doing it.
"To take me back to that place gives me even more strength to keep spring boarding forward."
Promoters say the series was born out of how athletes had to "reset" their goals and paths after the postponement of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In each episode of the AIS Reset IGTV series, one of Australia's leading athletes will focus on a career- and life-defining moment that has forced them to 'reset' goals and describe how that experience has shaped them as a person and as an athlete.
AIS director Matti Clements thanked the athletes for telling their stories and inspiring others. "The past few years have presented unique challenges to everyone, including our elite sportspeople," he said. "However, these moments that make us pause, reflect and reset can become our biggest sources of inspiration."