Stab Magazine | Kelly Slater: "Olympic Qualification Is On My Mind"
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Kelly Slater: “Olympic Qualification Is On My Mind”

There’s one competitive accolade Kelly hasn’t yet acquired. 

news // Mar 17, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

At Jeffreys Bay last year, less than an hour after Joel Parkinson announced his impending retirement, Kelly dropped a not-so-bombshell that he would be wrapping up his triple-decade spanning career at 2019’s end. Now, after talking with the NZ Heraldit looks as if the GOAT still has his gaze set on one final prize, or at least, appearance. 

At 47, still a year out from the Olympics, Kelly made clear that his scope is set outside the WSL’s confines. “Olympic qualification is on my mind.” Kelly told the Herald. 

“There is a chance I could retire at the end of this year, at least from full-time competition, but if it looks like, or if I feel like I’m going to make the Olympics, I’ll probably end up trying to do that next year.” 

As has been much discussed on this .com domain, Kelly’s fight for 2019 qualification has been tumultuous at best. With only two injury wildcard spots available, and three thoroughly injured surfers in contention – Kelly, John Florence, and Caio Ibelli – Kelly’s 2019 presence wasn’t confirmed until late 2018. Caio Ibelli has been vocal in his anger over the WSL’s decision, but as seemingly valid as his case was, there’s no denying the world’s winningest competitive surfer a ‘final’ lap of the globe. 

At Snapper, now only a couple of weeks away, Kelly will start from the back of the pack. Despite competing in a handful of events last year, Kelly’s injury wildcard entrance will have him pitted against 2018’s top (Medina, Julian, Filipe etc.) and ensure his 11-stop finale and hopeful Olympic berth are no easy feat.

To qualify for the Tokyo Olympic in 2020, Kelly will need to see himself into the top two of US athletes by the year’s end. And considering Hawaii and the mainland aren’t separated in the Olympics, Kelly will have John and Seabass to fight against alongside the mainland’s biggest threats like Griffin Colapinto, Kolohe Andino, and Conner Coffin. An Olympic appearance seems like the best fitting finale for a competitive career spanning near-three decades, but it’ll be tough going if the 47-year old wants to make the cut. 

Snapper kicks off on April 3  – pending waves, of course. We’ll keep you posted.

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