Stab Magazine | A Competitive Hurdle For Olympic Qualification
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A Competitive Hurdle For Olympic Qualification

Want a coveted Olympic ring tattoo? You’ll have to compete in the Miyazaki World Surfing Games first.

news // Jul 21, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Oh how I know you’re all dying for a surfing Olympic update. This past week has been filled with floating Docks, wavepool news, surf assault charges, and the first goofy footer to win J-Bay since ’84. Exciting enough I suppose, but not nearly as enticing as the prospect of medals being decided at Chiba beach!

While doing my weekly Google ‘surf alert’ scan I found an article entitled ‘Kelly Slater has an Olympic decision to make’ on NBC Sports and found it to contain a semi-newsworthy morsel of information.

We’ve covered the Olympic qualification process on here before – read here – but now it’s the tight and conflicting schedule required to make the cut is clear and approaching. Yes you can make it direct from the CT (10 men and eight women), but you still need to compete in the ISA World Surfing Games to be eligible. You didn’t think the WSL and ISA would make this easy for one another did you?

The ISA World Surfing Games this year are being held in Miyazaki, Japan – very far south of Chiba, about 16 hours drive – and is scheduled between Tahiti and the Freshwater Pro at Lemoore. A window period that’s less than three weeks, and a stopover that some on the tour aren’t excited for. 

Kelly is currently in eighth place on the CT and third as far as the Americans are concerned. But with John John out with a knee injury, Kelly will likely jump him before the season is out and the next American behind him is Conner Coffin in 12th. Despite previously saying he’s considering competing in the Olympics, if he makes it, Kelly has now said he’s not so sure about stopping off in Japan to compete in the requisite ISA Games.

“I think I have to surf that event, and if I don’t, it may disqualify me. [Note: It will disqualify anyone who doesn’t compete].” Kelly told NBC“But I’m not sure if I want to go to Japan and compete right now.

“I’m not exactly sure how I feel about the Olympics right now, anyway. The point is, I’m not really focusing on it at this point. I’m trying to get myself back in the flow of the tour. Right now in my head the focus is more on this tour than it is on the Olympics, but we’ll see,”

“I was starting this year with a lot of pressure on myself to try and make the Olympic team and think, maybe I’ll retire there next year and that will be the end for me. It put so much pressure on the start of the year for me that I didn’t feel like I could freely compete. It was putting too many things in my head. I needed to let that take a backseat and not worry about it. I’m just not really thinking about it a lot.”

Kelly aside, the ISA confirmed that any surfer who does not compete in the ISA World Surfing Games event in September will be disqualified. So it might be worth adding the Miyazaki event to your schedule if you’re looking to see who’s in form before the Freshwater Pro. 

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