Oscar Chalupsky, together with Graham Spencer wrote Chalupsky’s memoir titled No Retreat, No Surrender. It tracks Chalupsky’s life trajectory from an athletic competitive young boy growing up in Durban. At 15 he was the first person to win both the Junior and Senior Ironman titles and went on to break many more records, become a competitve surfskiier and a world champion sportsman. In between competing and running kayaking businesses he was given a terminal cancer diagnosis and was told he had just 6 months to live. That was in 2019. Tapping into his unshakeable belief in himself, optimism, and grit, he has continued to defy his doctors’ predictions. 

His story is incredible, and this book gives insight into what it takes to compete on a world champion level and what kind of person Chapulsky is. He’s undeniably an incredibly hard-working, goal driven and focused person. He’s also obsessive and has the level of confidence that crosses the line into what comes across as arrogance.  As I read it, I wondered what it would be like to walk through life with the level of self-confidence and belief in succeeding that he has.  

It’s a book I’d recommend to aspiring young athletes or those with a firm interest in surf skiing. It leaves you inspired and wondering what if… what if I thought I would win and just went after it. 

At the end of each chapter, he shares lessons learned from his experiences. These were my 10 of my favorite ones:

  1. Nothing worthwhile is easy.
  2. Make the most of every situation no matter how bad it seems.
  3. Aim as high as you can but be realistic in setting goals.
  4. Don’t be scared to do things differently.
  5. Always have a plan. Most people think the most important aspect of building something is the foundation. It’s not. It’s the plan. Without the plan, you cannot build the foundation. 
  6. Never enter a race with a negative mindset. If you do you will be defeated. That is as true in life as it is in sport. 
  7. Consistency may be humdrum compared to winning, but it pays off just as much. 
  8. There is always a choice in life, even in the direst situations. 
  9. Age is not everything. Age is more about motivation that anything else. 
  10. Never sit back and do nothing. Life is not for the lethargic. Get out there and keep moving. 

No Retreat, No Surrender is published by Penguin Random House and is available here

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