Stab Magazine | Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

*This story has been updated to reflect the position of the ASP.  Glenn ‘Micro’ Hall was at home on the NSW Central Coast two days ago when his inbox lit up with an email from the ASP. He took a deep breath before opening it. He knew that contained inside was their decision to either grant […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

*This story has been updated to reflect the position of the ASP. 

Glenn ‘Micro’ Hall was at home on the NSW Central Coast two days ago when his inbox lit up with an email from the ASP. He took a deep breath before opening it. He knew that contained inside was their decision to either grant him an injury wildcard and entry to the ASP World Tour in 2014 or not. With a second child on the way and having bought a house just two weeks before he broke his back competing in the Volcom Pro, Fiji, the stakes were clearly high but Micro was optimistic.

“I felt like I had a case that would fit perfectly to the criteria because I feel like my injury was the criteria, and they match up perfectly,” he says.

The news wasn’t good. He didn’t get the wildcard and will spend the next year as the first alternate on the Tour’s replacement list. He called his heavily pregnant wife who was out shopping with their two year old to tell her the news. “We sat around and it was a bit awkward. We were just going, ‘Wow, what happened?'” he says.

After ten years toughing it out on the World Qualifying Series, Micro finally realised his dream of surfing on the World Tour this year. He got dead last in his first two events before finding his feet in Brazil and delivering a serious blow to Joel Parkinson’s world title charge with an upset victory in round three, going on to a round five finish. It was a serious boost to Micro’s confidence and he could feel good things coming. “I lost two close heats and got good scores (on the Gold Coast and Bells). I’m mature enough to know that I was surfing well and if I hung in there the results will come.”

But during his round two heat with Jordy Smith at Restaurants in Fiji tragedy struck. Needing a mid-range score to progress, Micro took off deep on shallow section of the reef, fell off in the barrel and went backwards over the falls directly onto a rock. It fractured three vertebrae in his back and left him with severe lacerations. He was rescued by the water patrol but seven months later he’s still barely able to surf.

The ASP wildcard is decided with the help of a doctor and physio who make recommendations to a “Wildcard Committee” who then make the decision who is most worthy of the wildcard. That committee consists of Men’s Tour Manager, Renato Hickel, Al Hunt, Kieren Perrow, with Adrian Buchan as an advisor. The decision to award the wildcard is reached according to the “technical aspects of a surfer’s career accomplishments,” writes ASP representative, Dave Prodan via email.

“It’s not an ‘injury’ wildcard per se. It’s simply a wildcard that is allocated to the most deserving surfers. It is often allocated to injured surfers. In the event of multiple deserving applicants, the wildcard committee reviews technical aspects of a surfer’s career accomplishments,” he writes. 

Micro was up against Owen Wright and Tiago Pires for the Wildcard. Owen also suffered a back injury, in his round two heat with Dusty Payne at the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach – two events prior to the Volcom Pro, Fiji, where Micro was injured. Portugal’s Tiago Pires, meanwhile, injured the lateral ligament in his knee during a freesurf at home, also leaving him unable to compete since Bells.

“There is obviously a lot of talk going around on social media with conspiracies,” says Micro, “but I have no idea (why I didn’t get the wildcard). All I can talk about is my case,” he says.

As for why Tiago got the nod over Glenn, it came down to their career achievements, writes Prodan. “Both Glenn and Tiago sustained injuries that prevented them from surfing. In this case, the split in the decision boils down to technical accomplishments which include performance on tour. Glenn was at a disadvantage as he was a rookie. Glenn was in disadvantage both on WCT and World Rankings when it came to analyzing the past year’s in comparison with Tiago,” he writes.

On the phone Micro is surprisingly optimistic, even joking with Stab about just how serious the ramifications of this decision are for he and his family. Jesting aside, Micro now faces a very frightening prospect.  While he might contend that he would have been able to surf in 2014 had he been given the wildcard, he admits that the severity of the injury and the very real possibility of longterm complications will limit his capacity to enter the workforce – especially in the field of manual labour, the popular choice among unskilled former pro surfers – should he forgo his career in surfing. Asked whether Micro’s income would be covered by the ASP’s insurance policy should he be unable to work in the future due to an injury suffered in the workplace, the ASP wouldn’t comment.

Micro is undecided whether he will chase the WQS in the new year, which would mean relying on prize money to make his mortgage repayments. Still, he made the tour and no one can take that away from him. “It was amazing. I definitely feel like I reached my dream but I really didn’t get to live it out. Bitter sweet idn’t it?” he laughs. – Jed Smith 

Follow Jed on twitter, here.

Microsurgery on a Fijian face, before the slam. ASP/Kirstin

Microsurgery on a Fijian face, before the slam. ASP/Kirstin


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