Ollie Dousset: the amputee surfer who challenged Nazaré

January 16, 2020 | Surfing
Ollie Dousset: the Australian amputee surfer rode the big waves of Nazaré's Praia do Norte | Photo: Miguel Chaby

Ollie Dousset is a surfer like any other. But he is also probably the first-ever amputee to ride the big waves of Praia do Norte, in Nazaré, Portugal.

In August 2018, the surfer from Sydney, Australia, was traveling on the back of a scooter heading back to his accommodation in Uluwatu, Bali, Indonesia.

Suddenly, a cement truck ran over him. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery.

Still, ten days later, an infection - followed by an earthquake - forced his parents to pay for an emergency flight to the Royal Perth Hospital in Western Australia.

Unfortunately, when he arrived, the doctors told him they had to amputate the lower right leg.

In the last couple of years, Ollie initiated a physical and psychological recovery and got back to the water.

And he got stronger than ever. Today, Dousset is an active paraglider, slackliner, snowboarder, and climber, with no plans for holding back.

In December 2019, the Australian sportsman got barreled at Pipeline and decided to step up his game.

Surfing Nazaré With One Leg

Next challenge: Praia do Norte. So, Ollie got on a plane, flew to Portugal, and was invited to surf in the Gigantes de Nazaré tow-in contest.

"I had only been towed into waves a handful of times and never surfed a real tow board, nor had I done any tow surfing with straps since losing my leg," explained Ollie Dousset.

"I didn't know what was going to happen and if I was going to be able to do it. Everyone was having second thoughts about going out there in such big conditions, and were thinking of waiting for a smaller day."

But Caio Vaz walked over him and quietly asked what he thought. Ollie was excited and gave the Brazilian thumbs up.

"As we were getting ready, I noticed Caio was wearing a moon boot. He was still recovering from a heavy injury at Cloudbreak, where he ripped his hamstring off the bone and destroyed his leg," added the Australian.

"So, it was only fitting that two dudes with two good legs between us were heading out together. We were both laughing as we were walking down the wharf to the jet ski."

After practicing a few rescue pick-ups and water launches to figure out how to get his prosthetic foot into the tow strap, Ollie Dousset was ready.

The rest is history. Local photographer, Miguel Chaby, captured the moment for posterity.

As Muhammad Ali once put it, "Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing."

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