Mike Stewart Is Still Making History

Ron Mizutani
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Wednesday - September 23, 2009
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Pipeline expert Stewart was ready for big waves in Chile

Nine-time world body-board champion Mike Stewart is proving that 46 is just a number.

Last month, Stewart won the Arica Challenge in Chile at the age of 46, beating a field that included competitors half his age.

“I actually had a pretty tough draw and was locked up against the toughest guys in the sport,” Stewart says proudly. “It was real gratifying to do so well.”

Stewart had a vision more than two years ago of getting back into the game. After being away from the professional tour for several years, the sea-soned-veteran wanted to see if he could still compete at the sport’s highest level. A victory on Maui and a good showing at Pipeline in 2007 triggered questions.

“What if I got myself in top shape?” he asked himself. “What would happen?”

Stewart was determined to find out. With the help of fitness guru Paul Chek, he changed his lifestyle, altered his diet and went on a strict stretching program, focusing on core-training.

“Two years ago I was at a crossroads in my life,” he recalls. “I was physically deteriorating and quickly becoming less flexible. I found myself drifting down the road, getting caught up in society and the demands of work. It was at that point I decided to get back into shape.”

Stewart says he had a “pretty full plate” running a full-time business while juggling family responsibilities with his wife Lisa. He says if it weren’t for his strong network of friends and a strong family, he couldn’t have pursued his dreams. The hard work paid off. In 2009, Stewart became a force on the tour again.

“My wife was the key to this whole plan working,” he says gratefully. “She held down the fort when I was gone and took care of our two young children.”

Mike Stewart celebrates his win in Chile

Over the years, Stewart earned the title the “King of Pipeline” for his complete dominance at the world-famous break. And it was his experience in big surf that proved to be the difference in Chile, where he found himself looking at 10-foot waves during the finale.

“My experience in big surf was crucial, but I also had a pretty bad case of food poisoning a couple of days before that, which may have been my biggest blessing,” says Stewart. “It forced me to stay focused and I just tried to find the best waves with the best barrels. If I had more energy I may have taken more risks.”

Stewart is an icon in bodyboarding after winning nine straight world titles in the 1990s. He’s also one of the world’s greatest bodysurfers with numerous titles captured all around the globe.

His recent win in Chile proves there’s plenty still left in his well-conditioned body.

“The human body has so much potential, but is so under-utilized,” says Stewart. “So many people throw in the towel just because they get older, but the human body is an amazing thing and you can shape it into just about anything if you work hard.”

Stewart is currently ranked fourth on the world tour, chasing two young Australians and Jeff Hubbard of Hawaii. He says he’d like to earn another world title but knows it will be a challenge. After hundreds of wins and dozens of titles, the win in Chile may have been his sweetest yet.

“After two years of hard work, it culminated at that moment, and it was an amazing feeling and a huge accomplishment,” says Stewart. “I’m probably in the best shape of my life, and my message to everyone is don’t let your age be a barrier. There’s a lot of fruit out there - go eat it!”

After all these years, Mike Stewart is still making history - and making waves for the competition.

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