TEAM ROSTER AND BIOS
Who's representing your country?
Select any country name to view their team roster and learn more about our competing athletes.
Australia
DIVISION /
Kirk Watson
  • Age / 49
  • Born / Sydney, Australia
  • Resides in / Sydney, Australia
  • Favorite surf break / Bungan Beach
  • Board / DBurge Surfboards
  • Sponsors / Volcom, O'Neill, MG surfboards, Sanctum Surf, DBurge Surfboards
  • Biggest Achievement / ISA para worlds 2021 - VI1 -Silver
  • Hobbies / Sailing , surfing, skiing, going to live music concerts
I grew up on an island on Sydney's Northern Beaches which is an absolute haven for watersports. I loved surfing and would get out there with my mates as often as possible. As a teen I started losing my night vision and peripheral vision. I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa a degenerative condition. This progressively took things from my life not just my sight, my opportunity to drive a car, my independence, confidence, bike riding, surfing….. At this point I got into sailing and started to sail competitively, which gave me great freedom. Ocean racing taught me about everyone bringing their strengths to the team. I’ve competed in many campaigns including 10 Sydney to Hobarts. I would surf very occasionally with friends when out of Sydney. A friend who is an amputee surfer encouraged me to enter the Australian National para titles. This really inspired me, seeing others surfing despite their challenges. This has pushed me to get out there as much as I can and really work on improving my surfing. In 2019 I competed in the US Open Adaptive Surfing Championships, where I won the blind (VS1) division. I competed in the 2020 ISA para surfing world titles and won silver in 2021 World titles. I was third in 2022 US Open Adaptive Surfing Championships in September. Really excited to be representing my country again in the 2022 world titles. 
Australia
DIVISION /
Matt Formston
  • Age / 44
  • Born / Lennox Head
  • Resides in / Lennox Head
  • Favorite surf break / Lennnox Point
  • Board / Dylan SUrfboards
  • Sponsors / Optus, Billabong, Dylan Surfboards, OBfive Skateboards, Surfit Gym, Slimes surf and skate.
  • Biggest Achievement / 3 x ISA Para Surfing World CHampion (2017, 2018, 2020)
  • Hobbies / Surfing, skateboarding, scuba diving, didgeridoo, guitar, hanging with my family.
 

Matt Formston

Blind: 5% vision
Paralympian
 Big Wave Surfer
World Champion Surfer
World Champion Cyclist
World Record Holder
Business Executive
Professional Speaker
Commentator
Facilitator
Executive Coach
Brand Ambassador
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Champion

 

"The word 'can't was banned in our home. I was taught that anything is possible as long as you have the focused desire and are willing to put in the hard work."



CHILDHOOD

Diagnosed with Macular Dystrophy at age 5, Matt was one of the first people in the world under the age of 40 to be diagnosed with the disease.

Although he had lost his vision, Matt remained in a mainstream school, which was not deemed as ‘normal’ in Australia during the 1980s.

Matt grew up like all other children playing Rugby League for the Narrabeen Sharks from 5-11 years, transferring to Rugby Union and playing until his late teens, including the first fifteen team for his high school and reps for Warringah Rats.

He felt most at home playing sport and less different to others. In his teens, his love for surfing developed. He learnt to sail, played Ice Hockey, and was personally awarded the Sid Hamilton Shield state award by the Mayer of Sydney.

However, despite his success in sport, Matt faced constant bullying at school and challenges with the school system not being set up or equipped to support a child with a disability.

To deal with the bullying, Matt responded with violence to those who wanted to put him down and it took until his late 20s to learn to not react with anger and physical confrontation when dealing with conflict.



CYCLING

For a charity quest in 2009, despite not owning a bike, Matt rode a single bicycle on his own, 1,200 kilometres from Sydney to Melbourne.

To this day, it is still the world record travelled by a blind person on a bike and what started Matt on his cycling journey. Today he is still one of the world’s most accomplished professional blind cyclists.

On this ride, he was noticed by Cycling Australia talent scouts and by 2011, he was riding for Australia. Matt went on to win cycling events worldwide from 2012-2016 and retiring at the Rio Paralympics.

He also achieved an astounding 14 Australian Titles across four disciplines and was the driving force behind tandem bikes built from Carbon Fibre.

This had never been done before and created new ways to measure power output for tandem riders.



Accomplishments

2013 Tandem Road World Cup Gold Medallist (Matane, Canada)
Gold - 2014 Track World Championships Tandem 4 km Pursuit (Aguascalientes, Mexico) – setting new world record time, 4 mins and 11.213 secs at the same meet.
Matt won 12 Australian Titles during his cycling career and won gold medals all over the world for Australia.



This was the fastest time in history for a tandem bike ride, not just for Para Cycling and the third-fastest time that anyone on any pushbike had completed the 4 km pursuit.





SURFING

As a blind surfer, Matt is pushing the limits off what is physically possible. A documentary is currently in production to capture Matt’s journey chasing big barrels and him chasing his fourth ISA Para Surfing World Title.

Today Matt gives back to the community by running clinics for blind and visually impaired children since 2018 teaching them how to use sound, touch, and other senses to enjoy the freedom of the ocean.


Achievements

3 X ISA Para Surfing World Champion
3 x Hawaiian Championships winner (Oahu, Hawaii)
2 x US Open Adaptive Surfing Championships winner (Oceanside, USA)
Huntington Adaptive Pro winner (Huntington, USA)
Team captain of the Australian Para Surfing team since 2018.
Chiar of para Surfing Australia

 

AMBASSADOR

Vision Australia
Invictus Australia)
SurfAid

BUSINESS EXECUTIVE

Business executive and a leader the sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion spaces at Optus
Former Account Executive in Optus Enterprise Strategic Sales for 10+ years achieving pace setter Awards

Chair of Macquarie Business Park Community Partnership 2017-2021
Chair of Para Surfing Australia – Current Executive Director on the Board of Blind Sports and Recreation NSW ACT

Chair of Optus Disability Network

GIVING BACK

With authentic delivery and the ability to speak to many themes, Matt has been a professional speaker, commentator and facilitator for 10+ years.

He has inspired many at events for many iconic brands and businesses across Australia but not limited to:

Optus
Lendlease
Westpac
Pipsi co
The Commonwealth Bank
Tesla
Hewlett Packard


MEDIA & SPONSORS

SMH feature article: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/simply-mind-blowing-blind-surfer-matt-formston-s- wave-of-glory-20210531-p57wvn.html
Studio Ten interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BFHRNx0-Dg
Today Show interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yUZw7J9W7o
Ball and all podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/ask-yourself-could-i-do-this-and-could-i-do-it- with/id1508806293?i=1000535868229
Australian Paralympic Team Video: https://www.facebook.com/AUSParalympics/videos/1189112147795394/ Video on training with a disability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhkiQH5I6Tw

Matane World Cup highlights replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dycigu6IZjo Optus Relentless Series: https://www.facebook.com/Oztandem/videos/891989390933668/ Optus TVC played on multiple TV networks Nationally throughout the 2016 Olympics and Paralympicshttps://vimeo.com/188530735

Brands Matt has been sponsored by over the years as an athlete.

Cycling
Shimano
Garmin
Cyfac
Fast Forward Wheels
Calfee Design
Bont
Optus

Surfing

Billabong
Dylan Surfboards
Sticky Bumps Wax
OBfive Skateboards
Slimes Surf and Skate
Firewire Surfboards & Slater Designs



 
Australia
DIVISION /
Sam Bloom
  • Age / 51
  • Born / Newport
  • Resides in / Newport
  • Favorite surf break / North Bilgola
  • Board / 5'2
  • Sponsors / Blackmores, LSD, Roxy, FCS, Deus
  • Biggest Achievement / 2 x world para surf champion
  • Hobbies / surfing, gym
I have grown up on Sydney's northern beaches and have surfed ever since I was about 14.  I used to be a Registered Nurse and have travelled extensively particularly throughout Africa. I am married and have 3 boys. In 2013 whilst holidaying in Thailand I sustained a Spinal cord injury and became paralysed from the chest down. For years I struggled and felt that I’d lost my identity. 

Sport has played a huge role in helping me find purpose and I eventually got back on a surfboard 5 years after my accident. I finally found that sense of freedom and happiness of being able to share waves with my boys once again.  In 2018 and 2020 I won gold at the ISA World Championships and most recently was nominated 2022 best female Para surfer of the year.

My story has been made into a feature film called Penguin Bloom staring Naomi Watts which was released internationally in 2021. 
Australia
DIVISION /
Jocelyn Neumueller
  • Age / 27
  • Born / Victor Harbour, South Australia, AUS
  • Resides in / Victor Harbour, South Australia, AUS
  • Favorite surf break / Middleton Bay, SA, AUS
  • Board / Custom
  • Biggest Achievement / Paralympian
  • Hobbies / Bike riding, cooking, sit skiing, sky diving, bungee jumping
I am a sprint kayak Paralympian (RIO 2016) and World Champion. Shortly after being crowned VL1 200m World Champion in 2017, I paralysed my left arm during a training session, which forced me to retire from sprint kayak. Despite solely relying on the mobility of my right arm, I quickly fell in love with the freedom and enjoyment surfing brings to my life. I am a proud advocate for adaptive surfing inclusion within South Australia, AUS.  I am debuting for 'The Irukandjis' (Team Surfing AUS) in the Prone assist 2 classification. I wouldn't be able to surf without the assistance of my amazing team in the water with me.
Australia
DIVISION /
Jack Jackson
  • Age / 20
  • Born / Woy woy
  • Resides in / Woy woy
  • Favorite surf break / Umina
  • Board / The Saint by Dburge
  • Sponsors / Dburge Surfboards, Hueys choice surf was
  • Biggest Achievement / 1st place in Bali
  • Hobbies / Surfing, making music, soccer, watching the footy
My name's Jack, I'm from Woy woy, NSW, AU. Love my surfing, music and nature 
Australia
DIVISION /
Michael Foti
  • Age / 36
  • Born / Nowra
  • Resides in / Nowra
  • Favorite surf break / Werri Beach, Gerringong
  • Board / Mick Fanning x KUMA FISH
  • Biggest Achievement / 3rd Australian Para Surfing Championships
  • Hobbies / Skiing and surfing
I grew up skateboarding and body boarding on the South Coast of New South Wales. I was also a keen Snowboarder and became a snowboard instructor until i broke my back in 2014. After my injury I focused on Sit-skiing and trained and raced in Colorado and Europe and made it onto the Australian development team. During this time I also met my now wife Laurie and we decided to settle down back in my hometown of Nowra and since then I have taken back to surfing while still skiing for fun. 
Australia
DIVISION /
Chris Blowes
  • Age / 33
  • Born / Adelaide
  • Resides in / Adelaide
  • Favorite surf break / Sheringa
  • Board / DHD
  • Biggest Achievement / Australian Title
  • Hobbies / Surfing
Anzac Day 2015 greeted surfers with less than average conditions. Nevertheless that didn’t deter Chris, Nick and Brock - three good mates obsessed with surfing - who paddled out at Right Point, Fishery Bay. But nothing could prepare them for what they were about to encounter.

Chris Blowes was paddling back out to tell the others he was going to get one more wave before heading in, when he was hit from behind by what felt like a truck. Chris was engulfed in the jaws of a great white shark.

Chris, his board and the shark were no where to be seen. When Chris popped up his mates moved quickly to rescue him, with the ever-present shark beneath them.

Chris had lost a leg and had serious lacerations to his left flank. He had lost a lot of blood and if that wasn’t bad enough he was at the bottom of a cliff, over 30km from the nearest country hospital with little acute trauma resources.

Fast thinking and proactive surfers worked quickly to tourniquet his leg and stretcher him to an awaiting vehicle where they drove to meet paramedics.

Barely alive Chris received just under 90 minutes of CPR in the ambulance and emergency department of the Port Lincoln hospital, where a team of diligent paramedics, nurses and doctors worked hard to bring Chris back from the brink.
Australia
DIVISION /
Emma Dieters
  • Age / 41
  • Born / Mona Vale
  • Resides in / Mona Vale
  • Favorite surf break / Crescent Head
  • Board / my one & only fluro orange and black LSD Tex board
  • Sponsors / Volcom, Life Flipped Collective
  • Biggest Achievement / As an able bodied grom, in 1998 I made it to the NSW State Surfing Championships
  • Hobbies / As my current situation is only new surfing is my main focus at the moment. I am interested in trying out adaptive mountain biking soon to as I used to enjoy motorcross.
Feb 24th 2021, I walked into hospital with the belief that after resonably standard surgery, a few days in recovery and a couple of months of rehabilitation, I would be back to being more mobile, symptom & pain free. The surgery, a discectomy & spinal fusion at the C6/C7 level. Fast forward to today life is forever different. The bulge & original pain is gone, however I am now classified as C4 Asia D Quadriplegic For years prior to surgery, I had dealt with constant pain & could no longer play touch footy, soccer or ride my motocross bike. I spent chuncks of time in a neck collar and on bed rest for months. I couldn’t surf as holding my neck up was so painful & neuro symptoms would occur. Walking was even painful but it was the only "sport" I could manage. I pushed through alot of that to be as fit as possible going into the surgery. My theory was fit and strong in = fit and strong out! In a perfect world surgery outcome, my biggest hope post recovery was to get back to my active life out of and in the water. To get back on my surfboard to enjoy time in the ocean with the Chook and the kids. That was my goal!!! My perfect world surgery outcome was not to be. But I wasnt going to take that lying down. Originally getting on an adaptive surfboard was purely to show the kids I was ok, I am not broken, I am not down and out. I wanted them to see that I was a fighter and everything would be ok. A goals a goal, you hit it anyway you can. After only a few times out in the surf on an adapted board, it was through local Para Surfing Champ Sam Bloom, I found myself in Port Macquaire surfing in the Australian Surf Championships in the Prone 2 division on the 20th of August 2022. It was a bit of fun & an opportunity to really show case to the kids, you never know what could happen as long as you dont give up!  On the day, given the wild surf conditions, really all i wanted to do was stay alive! I hadn’t been out in surf like this since well before having the kids. But I pulled it together, dont know how but, I did it. While out there something happened though. Adrenaline that I had been missing for the past 18mths really kicked in.  That dopamine hit was real and addictive. Competitive Emma came out & I told Chook who is my able bodied team mate/lifeline, we’re coming back next year & I want to win! I thought that, for now, was that.  However, not long after I was offered a spot to surf at the International Surfing Association Para Surfing World Championships in Pismo Beach, California. Un-freakin believable!! I was amped!  I felt very honoured to be a part of the Irrakunji Australian Surf Team!  I want to be competitive, & give 100%. This sounds completely surreal to say, but, I want to do Australia proud & show my son Jackson and daughter Indi, as well as anyone that is facing lifes phyical challenges, no matter the reason, you can not only reach your goals you can surpass them.  This surfing trip may be a silver lining to all I have been through in the last 1.5years. But I want to turn it in to GOLD!  I have been greatly supported by many family, friends and local community as well as further afield. Through fundraisers and GoFundMe pages. I am doing this for everyone involved. I appreciate the support very much.  ...... Thank you to Volcom whom I now am now an ambassador for. This is a really cool full circle moment for me. I worked at Volcom OZNZ for 4-5yrs in the early 2000's when it was grass roots in Australia. I am honoured to be their ambassador 20+ yrs on ...... During my time in hospital I came to the conclusion that swimming teaching as well as my other active jobs was not going to be viable jobs in the near future. I decided I needed to learn the world of eCommerce and start an online store - www.lifeflippedcollective.com was born. It is still in early stages and I am looking forward to evolving and creating as i learn new skills.
Australia
DIVISION /
Lee Ferrier
  • Age / 43
  • Born / Narrabeen
  • Resides in / Narrabeen
  • Favorite surf break / Cloud Break
  • Board / Dburge
  • Sponsors / Yes please
  • Biggest Achievement / Australian PS2 Champion
  • Hobbies / Mountain bike riding, Surfing, Fishing
My name is Lee Ferrier Im 43 years old . I had a motorcycle accident in 2015 that left me paralysed from the chest down. I first tried Surfing again about 12months after my accident and have never looked back . I have always surfed and I am so stoked to be able to continue this lifestyle. I also love mountain bike riding and driving my turbo Falcon. I have a lovely partner Rozina and two boys Nixy and Jett. I also don't mind glass of Chivas Regal on the rocks.
Australia
DIVISION /
John Wheele
  • Age / 47
  • Born / Tura Beach
  • Resides in / Tura Beach
  • Favorite surf break / HT's
  • Board / Any DHD
  • Sponsors / Flooring xtra Sapphire coast
  • Biggest Achievement / Australian title 2022
  • Hobbies / Hanging with my wife
Started surfing on the NSW central coast and now live on the NSW Far south coast. I have the most amazing wife who is the greatest personal trainer who can customize workouts for any type of impairement and any age group and I would not be here without her ongoing support.
Australia
DIVISION /
Mark Stewart
  • Age / 60
  • Born / Byron Bay
  • Resides in / Byron Bay
  • Favorite surf break / The Pass
  • Board / Parkes Rounded pin 4 fin
  • Sponsors / Parkes Kneeboards, Rubberjungle Wetsuits, Barz Optics, Fisio crem Australia.
  • Biggest Achievement / Winning the First Ever- ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships.
  • Hobbies / Bonzai, Oil painting, fishing.
1976, When ‘Mono’ was fifteen he was told he had Osteosarcoma; bone cancer. He went through 2 years of chemotherapy after the doctors removed his right leg above the knee.  After he lost his leg he started to work out how he could surf again. He believes it was this passion to surf again that has been his driving force and determination in life. In September 2015, at the age of 53, he won the inaugural International Surfing Association World Adaptive Surfing Championship in La Jolla, California. Since then- He has Competed in 24 International Surfing events - making the final in all and WINNING 21 OF THEM. “Surfing’s kept me alive and kept me inspired — it’s good for the body as well as the soul,’’ he said. “It’s such a leveller. You can surf with people and they don’t even realise you’ve got one leg until you get out of the water. “I had a young boy come up to me in Indonesia not long ago who told me ‘if I ever lose a leg, I want to surf just like you’. It was like wow, pretty heart-wrenching stuff.’ Mono lives life to the fullest and his positivity and tenaciousness is infectious. “There are so many people that are worse off than me, that inspire me,’’ Mono said. “I’m lucky; I’m only missing a leg.”
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