Stab Magazine | These 8 Surfers Are Officially Qualified For The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
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These 8 Surfers Are Officially Qualified For The 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Plus a few others who are right on the bubble. 

news // Nov 2, 2019
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

With two overloaded Title races (five men, four women in contention!) heading to Hawaii, it would be easy to neglect the other, arguably more important, battle between our Championship Tour surfers: the struggle for Olympic qualification. 

As you may recall, there are 20 men’s and 20 women’s slots up for grabs in Tokyo 2020. Of those 20 slots (per gender), only two can be filled by athletes of the same nation. And, in terms of qualification, the 2019 Championship Tour rankings will determine 10 of the men and 8 of the women who surf in the Tokyo Games.

Following the European leg, there are eight CT surfers who have earned enough points to guarantee qualification for their respective Olympic squads. In other words, no two surfers of the same nation and gender can surpass them in the last event of the season. These athletes include:

Johanne Defay (Female, France)

Tatiana Weston-Webb (Female, Brazil)

Kolohe Andino (Male, USA) 

Kanoa Igarashi (Male, Japan)

Jordy Smith (Male, South Africa) 

Sally Fitzgibbons (Female, Australia) 

Stephanie Gilmore (Female, Australia)

Jeremy Flores (Male, France)

With eight surfers officially locked in for the 2020 Olympics, that leaves another 10 CT qualifiers to be decided via their respective Hawaiian events. 

The most prominent domestic disputes rage between American women and Brazilian men. 

Heading into Honolua, there’s a three-filly Title race between Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, California’s Lakey Peterson, and Florida’s Caroline Marks—all of whom surf under the stars and stripes (at least according to the IOC). 

This means that whoever wins the female World Title will also qualify for the Olympics. However, the second-place finisher will, too. So while becoming World Champion is foremost in their minds, it’s important for Carissa, Lakey, and Caroline to not lose sight of the bigger picture. A runner-up finish in this CT season is still incredibly valuable; if they were to win in Tokyo, it might even be more valuable than a 2019 WSL crown. 

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The same situation applies to the men’s World Title race, where Brazil’s Italo Ferreira, Gabriel Medina, and Filipe Toledo are all within a couple thousand points of the WSL crown. Whichever of these three surfers finishes highest in the rankings after Pipe will not only (most likely) win the Title, but he’ll also earn a spot on Team Brazil for the 2020 Tokyo Games. The same applies to the second-place finisher.

In both of these cases, as a result of the Olympic rules, the sport of surfing will sacrifice one of its top three performers in both the male and female divisions of Tokyo 2020. Sad, but true. 

Meanwhile, American men are in the midst of their own unique psychological battle. 

As you saw above, Kolohe Andino is already qualified for the Gringo squad, leaving just one more seat at Trump’s table. Currently, that spot is filled by John Florence, who resides at number eight in the world despite missing half of the season with a knee injury. Following at a safe-ish distance is the 11x Champ and 47-year-old water-bender, Kelly Slater, who sits 3,000 points behind John at number 10 in the world. Hawaii’s Seth Moniz resides at number 12, and it’s kind of irrelevant after that. 

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Here’s where it gets interesting. 

John hasn’t surfed since this past June when he blew out his ACL. Following surgery, John’s recovery time was estimated at around six months, which would theoretically put him back in the water in late-Dec/early-Jan. However, following a month-long sailing trip across the Pacific, John posted the following on his Instagram, which hinted at a return to defend his Olympic slot in the season’s final event: 

For now, back home and the knee is feeling great. I’m excited for the opportunities ahead, Pipe Masters and Olympics right around the corner.”

So, while it appeared that Kelly would be in a position to earn an Olympic slot simply by making the Pipe Masters quarterfinals (a feat he could achieve with his nuts stapled to his forehand), the prospect of John competing in the event shifts the scales entirely. We’ll just have to see how that knee feels come December. 

Meanwhile, another war wages between the Australian men. With Owen Wright having practically secured his Olympic bid, the likes of Julian Wilson, Ryan Callian, and Wade Carmichael are fighting feverishly for slot number two. Jules has the advantage both in terms of current points and Pipe experience (he’s a Pipe Master and finaled last year), but Callinan and Carmichael are both hearty tube wranglers. 

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And here are the situations for the final CT-borne Olympic slots up for grabs:

  • Michel Bourez must stave off the slippery Joan Duru to retain France’s final (male) entry
  • Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy and Brazil’s Silvana Lima must remain ahead of New Zealand’s Paige Hareb to retain the two final women’s slots

Get it? Got it? Grand.

Onto Hawaii!

You can read about the non-CT Olympic qualifiers here. 

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