Olympic Surfing Explained: Understanding Qualification and What It Means for the Pros

This summer season, browsing will make its Olympic Video games debut as a part of the new lineup for Tokyo 2020. Already, although, this Olympic motion is making a noticeable mark on aggressive browsing (and aggressive surfers) as we now sit at about the midway level of the qualification course of.

New faces from obscure places and backgrounds (akin to Israel’s Anat Lelieor) are surfacing as Olympic hopefuls, provisionally certified to signify their international locations on the world’s largest stage for sport.

Conversely, browsing’s most notable superstars, akin to Kelly Slater, are showing in the lineups of occasions outdoors of the highest degree of aggressive browsing, the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). That is all a part of an effort to stick to Olympic qualification necessities, which can be separate from that of the tour.

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Kelly Slater chases down Jeremy Flores throughout the Aloha Cup group relay race as a part of the 2019 ISA World Surfing Video games. Courtesy of Photograph Courtesy ISA/Ben Reed

In September, 55 nations despatched their surf groups to the Worldwide Surfing Affiliation (ISA) World Surfing Games (WSG) in Miyazaki, Japan to take part in the regional qualifying occasion. For a lot of of the 200+ surfers in attendance, it was their first time sharing the lineup with a few of the world’s most recognizable surfers.

“It’s super sick being [at the ISA WSG in Myazaki, Japan], rooting on your fellow countrymen,” says CT standout Kolohe Andino, nicknamed “Captain America” round the occasion. “The team atmosphere is rad! It is really fun surfing and representing in a team matchup like America versus Brazil, for example.”

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Kolohe Andino letting one unfastened for Staff USA throughout the 2019 ISA WSG grand ultimate. Courtesy of ISA/Ben Reed

Andino has secured his place as certainly one of the 40 complete surfers that can signify their international locations throughout browsing’s Olympic debut. Nevertheless, for Andino, participation at the ISA WSG was merely a formality as he earned his place by sway of the WSL rankings for the 2019 season.

“I am definitely focusing on the [WSL CT]. It is great coming to this [ISA] event, though,” explains Andino. “Because it doesn’t count toward the world title, it creates a super fun atmosphere. Everyone is talking smack, and doing that sort of thing. But yeah, I am definitely just focusing on the world tour and the world title, and then hopefully making it into the Olympics.”

For Andino, that was the excellent technique. Nevertheless, there are a number of paths to qualify and a hierarchy amongst the varied occasions concerned.

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Kolohe Andino provides excessive fives to a crowded seashore in Miyazaki, Japan for the 2019 ISA WSG. Courtesy of ISA/Pablo Jiminez

The very first thing to know is there are a restricted quantity of surfers allowed to compete in the Olympics. A complete of 20 males and 20 girls might be despatched to Tokyo 2020, every of which decided strictly by rank. The one surf self-discipline is high-performance shortboard, with solely 4 surfers complete (two males, two girls) allowed to compete from any given nation’s Nationwide Olympic Committee.

The 2019 WSL CT rating has the highest degree of hierarchy for Olympic qualification. Although WSL CT surfers are required to compete in ISA qualification occasions if they’re chosen to their nationwide group’s roster, they won’t be thought of for qualification via ISA occasions if qualification spots for their nation can in the end decided in the 2019 WSL CT rating.

Merely put, the most direct path for surfers is on the WSL CT. Eighteen surfers (10 males, eight girls) might be certified to signify their nation because of their rating at the finish of the 2019 season, however notice that there’s a cap with a most of two surfers per gender eligible to qualify.

The second most direct path to qualify is by being a high finisher at the 2020 ISA World Surfing Video games (WSG). Qualification spots might be awarded to the high 5 ending males and high seven ending girls, not together with surfers already certified or whose nationwide group has capped in accordance with the 2019 WSL CT rating.

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Owen Wright slicing it up for Staff Australia at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Video games. Courtesy of ISA/Pablo Jiminez

The opposite two occasions have already taken place, the 2019 PanAmerican Games and the 2019 ISA WSG. Though surfers have been provisionally certified from these occasions, the outcomes of the two above talked about paths outrank the particular person outcomes of those two.

Nevertheless, the international locations of the certified surfers from the PanAmerican Video games and the 2019 ISA WSG are locked in, as a result of these two occasions had been thought of Continental Qualifiers. Which means, till the finish of the 2019 WSL CT season and completion of the 2020 ISA WSG, most of the qualification slots decided up so far are provisional as they relate to the people.

“Surfing Australia is really gunning for the Olympics, and we’ve got a lot of funding to help us all get there,” says CT veteran Owen Wright. “I’ve seen more country spirit from countries in the forms of more funding. That is massive, and I think that is the same with every country. That has been a huge positive.”

Wright is presently sitting as the lead Australian in the WSL after successful the CT occasion in Teahupo’o, Tahiti simply earlier than attending the ISA WSG. For Wright, he sees a lot positivity circulating round this Olympic motion in browsing.

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Owen Wright celebrating with Staff Australia on their Aloha Cup group relay win at the 2019 ISA WSG. Courtesy of ISA/Sean Evans

“I enjoy coming to these [ISA events], they are really inclusive. For the last 10 years or so, the WSL guys have been kind of isolated, off to a different bracket,” explains Wright. “I find it nice to come to this event and be together with everyone. We get that team spirit and country pride. I think that is what has changed, when I think about the Olympics, it is more than just an individualized sport.”

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