Skip to content HOLIDAY HOURS

José Desfosses: From Last Place to World Champion

José Desfosses“At first, I hated running. From 12 to 15 years old, I always came in last in competitions. And then one day, when I was 18 or 19, I beat an Australian friend who was a champion himself. It felt good, it was the first time that someone had beaten him and it changed my life. I gained self-confidence and since then I’ve been able to run…” José Desfosses explains that at that time, two years after leaving Mahebourg with his father for Perth, Australia, he met this friend, who encouraged him to join the Scarborough Surf Life Saving Club.

“I hated sports at that time. Little by little, with effort and willpower, I discovered that I was able to run on soft sand, despite the difficulties it posed. Since then, it has become my favourite activity. Running is my greatest love,” says our compatriot. His blue eyes shine like the stars when he talks about his pleasure in seeing youths “suffer as they run on soft sand”. At 27 years old, José Desfosses ran his first marathon and only stopped 13 years later. “I noticed that it was damaging my tendons, so I stopped.”

At the club, the young José also learned how to surf ski. Attracted to the sea due to his Mahebourg upbringing, he easily got involved once he was in Australia. “It’s exciting to go out on the open sea when there are huge waves and the sun is shining”, the world champion claims.

state-master-championship2José Desfosses trains for competitions. “I train every day except Saturdays.” Every Sunday, he participates in competitions within his club, and every three weeks in the interstate championships… His training starts at 4 am. “The first thing I do in the morning is go for a run while the sun rises. I feel free as a bird. It’s really beautiful.” The champion also trains in the afternoons. “Training is very important in order to stay at a very hard fitness level.”

A surfing enthusiast, José trains every day starting at 4am.

Even on holiday, he keeps up his training, like right now in Trou-aux-Biches. Waking up at 5 am, he’s on the beach an hour later. “I do 15km of surf ski, 10km of running on soft sand and around two kilometres of swimming,” our conversation partner says in a soft voice. With his greying hair and tanned complexion, José trains for two or three hours every day. “I follow the deep-sea fishing boats that leave Trou-aux-Biches in the morning. I enjoy following them, taking advantage of the waves that form behind them.” For about an hour every day, he goes back and forth between the beach and the open sea. “I follow one boat. When it stops, I go back towards the beach and sometimes along the way I catch another boat and follow it until it drops anchor too.” His training ends around 8:30 or 9.

On some mornings, he trains the youngsters who jog on the beach and introduces them to surf ski. “When they train, it’s easy to see what they want to accomplish but they don’t know how to go about it. I ask them if they mind if I show them how.” So José trains them before going home for breakfast.

José has noticed that Mauritius has a passion for sports. Unfortunately, he says, there are many young people who are unable to make their dreams a reality due to a lack of means. He would like for young Mauritians to receive training in surf life saving, based on the Australian model. He recalls that in the early 90s he had circumnavigated the island by kayak in order to raise money to open a training school. Unfortunately, although the activity was a success, the project wasn’t completed. José would like for lifeguarding clubs to be opened all over the island, and even in schools. He points out that sports such as surf ski foster respect for oneself and one’s body. “It’s healthy. Instead of destroying yourself by taking drugs, you can enjoy sports from every angle. They encourage people to respect and love their bodies.”

Article by Munavvar Namdarkhan

José Desfosses

José Desfosses is a unique Australian character. Born in Mauritius in 1950, he migrated to Australia when 15 years old. There he found himself lost in a huge and strange land, unable to understand the new language. He lacked any confidence in himself and felt lost for the next four years.
At the age of nineteen he was determined to do something about his lack of confidence by pursuing personal fitness. He had no idea where this might take him but his new friend, Brian Hall, suggested that he join the Scarborough Surf Life Saving Club, a hive of young male physical fitness activity.

José joined in enthusiastically and discovered he loved to train, and to train hard, pushing his body to newfound limits, a feeling not available in shops and bars. He discovered he loved to run and that he was so good as to be competitive at state and national levels. Over the years he achieved many personal bests, including in 1983 a 2.42 Marathon, the 12 km City to Surf in 42 minutes and a 32km race in just 2 hours.

A Surf Club Legend

2012 Gold Medal José DesfossesAt Scarborough Surf Club José is legendary. He has set the fastest time for the gruelling McGovern Marathon, a 7km medley of swim, wade and soft sand run, no less than 36 times. He has won many medals at State Masters Championships, in ski paddling and running. In the 2008 World Surf Life Saving Championships in Germany he won 2 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medallions. Four years later in Australia he won silver in the long run in soft sand. In Perth in 2013 he won 3 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medallions at the State Masters Championships.

His legend extends to his home country in Mauritius where in 1993, to raise funds to establish a surf club in Mauritius he completed a solo paddle around the island of Mauritius on his racing surf ski. Brave, yes, awesome, you bet. He is amazing!

Well Beyond Personal Achievement and Glory

2013 AussiesJosé has achieved at the highest levels in his chosen sports and is focussed but in no way selfish. In recent years, while maintaining his own personal fitness and standards, he has switched his efforts to helping others, particularly providing inspiration and support to those who lack confidence and direction as he did in his younger days.

He gets huge satisfaction from training those younger than him. His aim is to help his protégés to reach their potential, as he has done in his past. He aims to guide them to avoid the mistakes he has made. He supports underdogs to believe in themselves and their ability. To see his athletes improve and achieve physically and mentally is his goal, and he is gifted in this encouragement. The under-confident, unfit and overweight are welcome in José’s programs, and succeed with him as he encourages good eating, living and training.

Rehabilitation Processes

As José has helped many young and old athletes he has found great value in the treatment he has received from Steve Hooper. José works hard and has not been without setbacks and injuries. The guidance and treatment from Steve has proved invaluable. Smart and successful rehabilitation programs have helped keep José on the track when otherwise he would have withdrawn from competition.

José recalls fondly the recovery he experienced after a surfing mishap six weeks before the world championships. With two torn ligaments and a damaged cartilage on the inside of his knee he was devastated at the thought of being unable to compete. With Steve’s treatment and rehabilitation program José boarded the plane east and competed to come home with a silver medal, losing gold by just a nose.

Another injury before the 2013 State Maters saw José undertake another successful rehabilitation program. Once again the result was impressive, 3 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze.

While his commitment to work as a saw doctor guarantees that José is not a professional athlete his approach is extremely professional. He has found Steve matches that standard, being professional, dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate. Steve is focused and ensures that that his diagnosis and treatments promote the well-being of his patients.

José is confident to recommend Steve to any of his fellow athletes should they be injured. By his nature and dedication José stretches the bounds of any health professional’s skills and knowledge and he has absolute confidence in Steve Hooper. Steve uses the latest equipment and regularly researches new methods, updating to get better results.

José happily and unreservedly endorses Steve Hooper’s physiotherapy treatment.

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.