STOCKHOLM – The stakes are high for surfing when it makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo, and it’s not just about the gold medals. If the introduction is successful, it could pave the way for more events and thus more medals to be available to surfers in future games.
There are two gold medals up for grabs in Tokyo, one for men and one for women using short boards.
Should these competitions provide the drama and spectacular visuals normally associated with the sport, future Games may include other events such as longboards, bodyboards and stand-up paddleboards (SUP).
The big breakthrough has been a long time coming for surfing.
Often known as the father of modern surfing, Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku won three gold medals in swimming at the Stockholm 1912 and Antwerp 1920 Games and expressed his dream of seeing the sport included in the Olympics while accepting his medal at the Games. from 1912.
Some 109 years later, that dream will come true on Tsurigasaki Beach on Japan’s Pacific coast, about 100 km from Tokyo’s Olympic Stadium.
At approximately 1.8 meters in length, short boards typically have three small fins at the bottom and a pointed nose, giving expert riders the freedom to make sharp turns and dynamic changes of direction that are more difficult to achieve. on larger boards.
In the competition, traditional powerhouses like the United States and Australia will face a new generation of Brazilian surfers eager to make their mark on the Olympic stage.
Gabriel Medina will lead the Brazilian charge, having reached five of the six finals in the 2021 World Surf League (WSL) men’s season so far, winning twice, and will be under pressure from fellow countryman and world champion Italo Ferreira. .
However, the new wave will not get its way, and American surfer John John Florence, the 2016 and 2017 WSL champion, will hope to recover from a knee injury in time to battle the Brazilians.
In the women’s competition, 28-year-old American Carissa Moore hopes to add a first Olympic gold to her four World Surf League titles, but will face a tough challenge led by seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore of Australia.
With high temperatures likely at the height of the Japanese summer and the possibility of powerful waves generated by typhoons, the stage is set for a spectacular start to the Olympic era of surfing.
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