Two weeks ago, Merewether surfer Morgan Cibilic couldn't walk because of a knee injury that threatened to wipe-out what shaped as a stunning rise to the World Surf League championship tour.
The 20-year-old, though, declared he was ready to do everything he could in Hawaii this week when the season-ending Triple Crown starts in Haleiwa.
Cibilic made the trip on Monday to prepare for the Hawaiian Pro, which could kick-off as early as Thursday (AEDT), knowing one good result at the two remaining 10,000-point qualifying series events could be enough to join clubmate Ryan Callinan on the elite 34-man CT in 2020.
He is 16th on the QS, 2900 points outside the cutline for the CT, in just his second full season on the second-tier tour. The QS top 10 each year are promoted to the CT.
Cibilic had not even competed at a 10,000-point event, the highest level on the QS, before this year, but he soared into calculations with a semi-final run at the Galicia Classic Surf Pro in Spain and last 16 exit at the Ericeira Pro in Portugal.
However, his hopes of qualifying appeared over four weeks ago when he landed awkwardly from an aerial manoeuvre in a free surf in Portugal, two days before trials for the CT event. He completely tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
The injury can take up to eight weeks to heal, but Cibilic was determined to compete at the Hawaiian Pro this week then at the World Cup at Sunset Beach from November 25.
"It's just getting better now but I'm competing, so it's good," Cibilic said.
"It was a complete tear, so it was like, I didn't know if I would be able to compete or not, but it came good pretty quick. The physio said it was one of the quickest ones he's seen.
"I've only surfed twice but I haven't done too much. I've just been keeping it protected and just keeping my paddle fitness up.
"I did rehab pretty much two hours every day. I've done as much as I can to be ready for it."
Cibilic said he was "still in shock" about being in contention to make the CT so early in his career.
"I haven't really comprehended it yet," he said.
"At the end of last year and start of this one, I was just praying to get into the 10,000s.
"My goal at the start of this year was just to get into the Triple Crown, so I've done that, and I'm pretty stoked.
"This time last year I went on a camp with Surfing Australia and they got us around the comp just to see what people were doing to prepare for qualification. Now this year me and my mate Liam [O'Brien], we were on that camp, and now we're actually in that qualification talk ... I didn't really see this coming at all."
He said his knee was "about 75 per cent" and he believed that "one more good result or two more decent results and I'll be looking pretty good" to qualify.
"It's a pretty big opportunity and I don't really want to miss it, but at the same time I don't want to hurt myself, so I'm not going to be pushing too hard in the first event," he said. "I'm not going to risk it unless I'm in the semi-finals or something. I'm not going to go crazy."
Although racing the clock to be fit, Cibilic was just glad to have a shot.
"I'm just stoked I can surf," he said. "Two weeks ago I couldn't even walk so I'm stoked about my recovery.
"When I did it, it didn't actually hurt that much. I could walk and I thought that it mustn't be too bad, that I might be able to surf in the trials still. Then I woke up in the morning and I couldn't move my leg at all."
Cibilic put his rapid rise this year down to a change in attitude after some belief-building heat wins.
"I had a really bad year until the first big event came along," he said.
"I don't know, I was just trying to still have fun with it all, and all of a sudden I got a couple of results.
"Going into Europe I watched my mate Liam get a really good result in America and it gave me more drive. I wanted it so much more and I was really focused leading up to Europe and what I needed to do.
"I didn't spend too much time in the gym, I just tried to keep it as fun as possible but still tried to put in four to six hours in the water every day. Just focusing on specific stuff I wanted to improve on.
"A lot of my results this year came from my attitude. I believed in myself a lot more, especially after the half-year turn, when I started to beat some of the bigger names. I really started believing I could do it and that was really the difference."
Cibilic developed his surfing at Merewether but his parents moved back to Yamba midway through this year. He planned to spend more time in Newcastle next year.