French surfer, Amandine Sanchez, impressed last season by finishing in 4th place on the European WQS tour - despite just recovering from a serious knee injury.
For a girl who thought more about becoming a hairdresser when she was younger, as opposed to a pro surfer it is quite an acheivement.
2009 looks to be even more promising for the talented surfer as she stepped up her training for the year both in France and around the world.
Congratulations to O'Neill team riders, Amandine Sanchez and Caroline Sarran!
Amandine Sanchez reached the final of the Pantin Classic presented by O’Neill to storm into the top five of the European WQS final rankings for 2008.
Amandine’s 4th place finish is a remarkable achievement, especially as she spent much of the season recovering from a serious knee injury.
Caroline Sarran, a former WCT contender, finished right behind her French O’Neill teammate and friend, Amandine, in fifth place.
There is no doubt that these two girls are going to be a force to be reckoned with next season.Interview
Did you always want to be a pro surfer when 'you grew up'?
"When I was little I dreamt about working with dolphins. I used to watch Flipper. Then I realized it was just a dream. Next I said I wanted to be a hairdresser, and I did that.
I surfed a lot growing up, but I wasn't into competitions all that much. I was more into freesurfing."
What made you switch to the competition side of surfing.
"I used to think that comps were only about beating other people. I didn't find that a very positive spirit to be around.
But then I realized that the only adversary I have is myself. I don't care who is in my heat, it's about beating my best and doing as well as I can for myself.
I've brought that into my life outside of surfing as well. It's changed a lot for me."
Are you now catching up on the competitive side of things?
"Australian girls start so young in competitions. I started when I was younger, and then stopped and have now started again. I have so much to learn but I think that it helps as well. I have more distance from everything, I can see things with a fresh eye that I couldn't have if I was in the competition circuit the whole time."
What is it you love about surfing?
"I love the nature. You think about nothing when you are in the water. It's amazing. It just makes you feel alive. It's the life. The nature is so powerful. It can clean your mind so quickly."
You recently injured your knee. How did that change things for you?
"Since I destroyed my knee my life has become completely different. I had six months out. It made me realise more than ever, that this was exactly what I wanted to do.
I hadn't thought that this could be taken away from me like that - that it could completely stop. I realise now that it can. I make sure I live each minute way more intense. You have one life. It's now or never."
Does having a coach make a big difference to your surfing?
"Xavier helps me with physical training. He is also great for my confidence. He really motivates and believes in us."
What are your goals in surfing?
"This year my plan was slightly ruined by my injury. I am going to take the two months after the tour finishes to train physically really hard and so I can help prevent another injury in the future.
Then I will go to Hawaii for two months and next year start seriously the WQS. I will try to do something there.
Next season I am going to be focused on the tour and not influenced by other things. I would like to go to Hawaii the USA and Australia, and only come back here (to France) for training when I need it."
Don't you miss home?
"It's good to be here in France because I have my friends and my family and it's healthy to have other things outside surfing. But the waves are not that good. When it's stormy you can't surf for about 5 days. You can loose the time. We need to surf. In Australia I was surfing 6 to 8 hours every day. It's so good and so much more motivating."