Victor Harbor woman Jocelyn Neumueller wins gold in Prone 2 division of 2021 World Para Surfing Championships

A world championship crew is in our midst.

Former Victor Harbor woman Jocelyn Neumueller has taken out gold in her division at the ISA World Para Surfing Championship.

The world title event was held from December 6 to 11 at Pismo Beach in California.

Neumueller, who now lives in Adelaide, represented Australia in The Irukandjis team and competed in the Prone 2 division, which is for people who cannot get on the board or paddle independently. She came out on top with a score of 15.5.

"It was in our favour to a degree that (Pismo Beach) was similar to Middleton, minus the impact of the pier," she said.

"I was up against someone with CP (cerebral palsy) who could walk, a quadruple amputee, and another person who was a paraplegic and had full use of both arms.

"We saw they were rewarding the big waves, and coming from Middleton we've had a lot of practice on the big waves, so we just went for the biggest waves of the heat and were rewarded for that."

She defeated Spain's Sarah Almagro, who scored 14.67, while her Irukandjis teammate Samantha Bloom, who won the last two world championships, snagged the bronze medal with 13.73.

It is an impressive effort, seeing as Neumueller only got back on the board for the first time since she was a kid just over a year ago, in the midst of the pandemic.

"I was swimming competitively, looking at potentially trying to qualify in swimming, but between pools being closed and having surgery which meant I couldn't get in the water for a while, we went out one day - literally went and grabbed some boards from my parents from when we were kids and went out - and I kind of got hooked ever since that," she said.

"We went to Moana just to get in the water and I regained my love for the ocean.

"Since then we've built up a crew down south and have gone out three times a week, no matter what the conditions are."

Her team consists of Matt Henwood and Vance Gordon, who live on the Fleurieu, and Matt Walsh, who is originally from the south coast.

They help her onto the board, push her onto the wave, and catch her.

"It really is a team effort. I can't get onto a wave if the pusher doesn't push in the correct direction," she said.

Using a solid glass suction handle on top of the board, she uses her elbow and forearm to pivot.

"I basically lay flat on the board and have standard fins in the back, and we place the handle about a third of the way down the board, and we've got extra tail pads and traction over the board so I don't slide off the board," she said.

Neumueller has loved being back in the water and on the board, and the freedom it gives her.

She has also joined the Surfing SA board.

"On land, having only function in one arm, I'm restricted to where my wheelchair can go and limited in what I can do, whereas when I'm on my board and in the ocean, the ocean doesn't judge," she said.

"I can hop on the same wave as everyone else, I can go every direction - there's no limitations when I'm in the ocean.

"That sense of freedom and that sense of independence that I can get when I'm on a wave - I can't get that anywhere else."

This story Top of the world first appeared on The Times.