King Kelly Slater walks away with young hearts


King Kelly walks away with young hearts

Stephen Johnson
March 11, 2012

King of the nippers … superstar Kelly Slater with young admirers at the opening of the Manly-Freshwater world surfing reserve. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

KELLY SLATER, who grew up in poverty and became the greatest surfer in the world, revealed yesterday he had come agonisingly close to a supreme accolade only to be denied it in mysterious circumstances.

The 11-time world champion was at Manly for a ceremony to recognise Manly and Freshwater beaches as a world surfing reserve.

Slater, 40, said: ”I’ve never spoken about this publicly but I got invited to the White House last year and then I got uninvited to the White House and I’m not quite sure why. That would have been a giant honour.”

The champion who grew up in difficult circumstances in Cocoa Beach, Florida, was mobbed by nippers as he stepped off a stage holding the hand of the NSW Governor Marie Bashir. Slater, who first visited Australia as a 15-year-old boy in 1987, had a crowd of hundreds awestruck as he spoke about his love of Australian culture and its strange sayings like ”chinwag”.

”I just love it – you guys have some of the funniest sayings in the world,” he said, adding that he loved his Australian friends and the nation’s ”exceptional” beaches…

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