The survivor of the Illawarra's most serious shark attack in living memory is gearing up to take on one of the world's most treacherous waves.
It's been five years since Brett Connellan lost three-quarters of his left thigh at Bombo Beach, and now he wants to join the lineup at Teahupo'o in Tahiti where waves are known to reach 10 to 20 metres in height.
Defying the odds in so many ways, the now 28-year-old wasn't happy with his doctors' original prognosis that he would "never walk again, never be active, never surf again".
He has returned to the ocean surfing at the exact break that broke him, he's been training to run a marathon and recently swam with sharks at Bushrangers Bay.
"I'll always have to have some kind of level of fitness or strength to allow that leg to work ... the rehab you have to take seriously, it doesn't finish when you can walk again or when you can surf again, it's an ongoing process," he said.
"The thing that reminds me of it the most is I'll be walking and my leg will give way, and I'll have to catch myself with my right leg."
Despite that constant reminder, Connellan has been sharing his story of survival - every vivid detail he so clearly remembers - along with his road to recovery in schools and other settings to highlight anything is possible.
In 2022, the pair aim to travel to Fiji and Tahiti in search of big waves, as well as film Connellan taking part in the gruelling Molokai to Ohau paddleboard championships in Hawaii.
"It feels weird to call a mate inspirational, but I think it would be weirder to call him anything but," Tolhurst said.
"I've watched how he went about his recovery and the progress he was making and was just enamoured with his dedication and ability to rise above it all."
Only recently the gnarled wetsuit from that harrowing night in March 2016 was brought back into the light and framed after being hidden away and forgotten in his parent's garage.
Connellan said it's a stark reminder of how life can change in a second but he honestly wouldn't change what unfolded.
He was a 22-year-old just weeks away from trying his hand at the World Surfing League when that freak encounter stole his identity and the dream he had been working towards his whole life.
"For what it took away, it definitely gave me much more," he said. "Sometimes things in life happen that are unlucky or unfair - and it is part of life - but it comes down to how you look at bouncing back."
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