The 13-year-old surfing and skating champion who suddenly stopped growing.

There’s nothing typical about this 13-year-old from Newcastle, NSW.

Sabre Norris is a talented surfer and skateboarder and has dreams of making it pro. But her dreams aren’t regular kid dreams. She is onto something.

In 2016, Sabre at age 11 received a wildcard entry into the Sydney International Women’s Surf Pro.

Her qualification meant she was interviewed by Today in a clip that quickly went viral after Sabre, speaking about her father, former Olympic swimmer Justin Norris, said: “he was an athlete but now he’s gotten fat”.

From there, she appeared on The Ellen Show and handled the international attention like a trooper.

Next, she plans on qualifying for the 2020 Olympics for skateboarding and – if her much-loved Instagram videos are anything to go by – she’s a definite contender.

But this go-getter Aussie hero is facing something much more terrifying right now than big waves and concrete skate ramps.

Towards the end of last year, Sabre’s parents noticed she’d stopped growing. Doctors found there was swelling on her brain and, after several scans, she’s now been diagnosed with a condition called Chiari malformation, Fairfax reports.

Chiari malformation is a condition in which the base of the skull doesn’t have room to accommodate the base of the brain – the brain stem and cerebellum.

According to the Victorian Brain and Spine Centre, this causes the cerebellum and lower brain stem to compress into the spinal cord canal, leading to headaches, neck pain, and difficulty controlling movement.


In Sabre’s case, the doctors believe the malformation is affecting her pituitary gland because she’s stopped growing.

“They found some pressure in my brain and I’m not growing,” she posted to Instagram in October last year. “I’ve had to have a lot of tests and needles. The two MRI scan people were surfers and they knew I surfed too so they took really good care of me.”


According to the Australian Brain Foundation, people are typically born with Chiari malformation but the symptoms develop over time.

LISTEN: This is exactly what the mother of a very sick child wants you to know. Post continues after audio. 

Surgery is a common treatment for the condition, and can involve enlarging the base of the skull to alleviate pressure on the brain and allow the normal flow of cerebral fluid through the spinal cord canal.

“Most patients who have surgery experience a reduction or stabilisation of their symptoms,” the Foundation website states.


And, as for Sabre and her dreams to represent Australia at the Olympics or on the Pro Surfing World Tour?

Understandably, she’s scared. At the moment, she is not experiencing any other symptoms except for not growing. “I do cry in my bed a lot,” she told Fairfax. “I’m scared of it getting worse and not being able to skate and surf again.”

But, for the most part, she sees it as a challenge to overcome – the same way any pro athlete would.

“The medical result means I need to show more heart and put in more hours than anyone else,” she said.

“I’ve got to learn to live with it. If you’ve got something wrong with you, you’ve got to accept it and not hide it. You need to tell someone about it, so you don’t feel so alone.”

Good luck Sabre, we’ll all be rooting for you.

LISTEN: what the mother of a very sick child wants you to know.