World Champ, Peter Townend, Is The Chinese Olympic Surf Team Coach
The bass kick of Olympic surfing grows ever-louder as the Games’ two biggest superpowers make significant structural moves to win gold in 2020. It’s three years out, and unsurprisingly, both the United States and China are already plotting.
For the past 15-plus years, the United States’ national program has been administered via the Surfing America organisation. Through a myriad of ups and downs, the group has been the guiding hand for America’s national surf program, but since the sport’s admission into the Olympics, the pressure’s mounting. Much like U.S.A Swimming or U.S.A Water Polo or any of the national governing bodies of Olympic sports, surfing now has to adhere to a number of rules and processes regarding the running of its organisation and selection process of its athletes. Thus, a new organising body is being formed to formalise the U.S. program.
U.S.A. Surfing, will now be in charge of all things national team related, including a series of contests and the annual U.S. Surfing Championships at Lower Trestles. Headed by Sun Bum Sunscreen CEO Adam Francis (an Aussie!), an entirely new board of directors is being brought on to move the program forward.
“It’s an entirely new organisation,” said Bruce Beach, a U.S.A. Surfing board member and one of only two holdovers from Surfing America. “The program needed to hit the reset button and that’s what we’ve done. We’re building a new strategic growth plan that will provide U.S.A. Surfing with a strong foundation, as well as allow us to really build the program to point where all systems are firing by the time the 2020 Games roll around.”
The current plan is to address some of the more mundane but vital details with the U.S. surf program. There is a small amount of residual debt leftover from Surfing America, which will be paid down, while at the same time new opportunities for corporate sponsors are being discussed. They will also be addressing the need for a full-time coach that can help get the program to where it needs to be by 2020. There’s even talk of a designing a high-performance surf center much like the one in Australia, but that vision remains further down the tracks. U.S.A. Surfing will make its first public appearance at a fundraiser in San Clemente, California, this Thursday night.
Mind you, we’re not talking about the WSL or the ISA, this is the Olympic Games and China loves winning gold. It’s a matter of national pride. The first-ever Chinese National Team is currently being developed under the direction of surfing’s first-ever world champ Peter “PT” Townend. The Australian turned American turned Chinese coach has been spending considerable time in China in recent months. At a recent “Friends of Olympic Surfing” event in Laguna Beach he showed up decked out in a Chinese national surf team warmup jacket.
“China’s going to be bringing a team to the ISA World Surf Championships in France later this year. It’ll be the first time they’ve fielded a team,” said Townend. “We’re working incredibly hard to build this program from the ground up and we’re starting to make some good progress.”
Currently the Chinese National Team is posted up on Hainan Island training with Townend, who headed back over to China after the reception in Laguna Beach last week.
“I’m back in Hainan Island, China today to begin Phase 11 of training with this group of which six have been selected to contest the ISA World Games in France next month, China’s first ever appearance!” said Townend.
Phase 11 sounds like a lot and we’re not sure how many more phases are left, but it would be fair to say that in terms of Olympic development, the Australian National Team is lightyears ahead of the U.S. and China in their march towards Olympic glory. Their training centers are already fully operational. They’ve got incredible coaches and sports scientists guiding their athletes. And the government isn’t afraid to throw some dough at the project. It’s going to be an uphill climb for the American’s to catch-up, and an even more monumental task for the Chinese to become even remotely competitive, but 2020’s a long way off and stranger things have certainly happened. After all, surfing’s in the Olympics.
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