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

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.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 4

The energy drinks are here. They’ve got millions of dollars, and they want your head.

Dec 2, 2022

‘Saturn’ Orbits Into Southern California

Quiksilver's newest film made landfall in Encinitas, and we were there to document the occasion.

Dec 1, 2022

The Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Returns In 2023

Can anyone beat John Florence and Carissa Moore in a three-week window?

Dec 1, 2022

What Will Airs Look Like In 10 Years?

The final installment of our editorial exploration into the nuances of airborne surfing.

Dec 1, 2022


Can A South African Cavern Queen With No Pipeline Experience Do Well At The Vans Pipe Masters?

Sophie Bell will have a steep learning curve in Hawaii.

Nov 30, 2022

After Years Of Tragic Shark Attacks, Surf Competition Returns To Reunion Island — And A CT Event Could Follow

"We compete at J-Bay and Margarets where there's the same problem." -Johanne Defay

Nov 30, 2022


Sharing Tubes And Hummus In The Middle East’s Surfing Jewel: Israel

No Contest does Tel Aviv!

Nov 29, 2022


Joao Chianca Wants A Pipeline Rematch With JJF

And ain't afraid to ride more foam to do it in the Vans Pipe Masters.

Nov 29, 2022

An Unorthodox Marriage Of Science And Surf

Cliff Kapono and The Mega Lab are changing stereotypes on all fronts.

Nov 28, 2022


Harry Bryant Dumps Crutches, Visualizes Pipeline Pits After Snapping Leg

“For once in my life, I’m taking something a bit more serious."

Nov 27, 2022

What If You Bought This Sumatran Surf Camp For $690k?

Making a blue print out of surfing's most recurring day dream.

Nov 27, 2022

Sierra Kerr On Greasing Full Rotes, Making Dad Cry & Her Concussion @ VSHPBME 

'I haven’t got my license yet, but I'm thinking of buying a little truck.'

Nov 27, 2022


“There Definitely Needs To Be More Girls That Try Airs”

Caity Simmers' thoughts on her Vans Pipe Masters debut.

Nov 26, 2022

Preview: Who’s John John Florence Flushing Down The Haleiwa Toilet Bowl?

The final event of the CS schedule is almost upon us. Let's dissect.

Nov 25, 2022


Dane Reynolds Said These Clips Weren’t Good Enough

Could'a fooled us.

Nov 25, 2022

Watch Now: Kael Walsh, Rolo Montes, And Al Cleland Jr In ‘Saturn’

Quik’s new 20-minute surf film is so good you’ll want to burn a DVD of…

Nov 24, 2022


How A Magic Island Birthed One Of The Most Radical Surf And Skate Scenes In The World

Mateus Herdy, Pedro Barros and friends in Red Bull x Stab's No Contest, Brazil.

Nov 23, 2022

The Uber Driver Turned Crypto Millionaire Who Denounced His US Citizenship And Whips Into XXL Nazare

"I do what I want, I don't have a boss." -Toby Trouble

Nov 23, 2022