Two Surfers You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of Just Qualified For The Olympics
Introducing the second and third surfing Olympic qualifiers, both from Perú!
Back in 2018, Kanoa Igarashi brokered a deal with the Japanese government that guaranteed his spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Whether I’m injured, whether I don’t have a leg, whether my neck gets broken, I’m still gonna surf,” Kanoa told us in his Stab Interview this May.
That meant, before today, there were still 39 Olympic slots up for grabs. With the surfing portion of the Pan-Am Games coming to a close on Sunday afternoon, that number is now down to 37.
By winning the home-based Olympic qualifier event, Daniella Rosas and Lucca Mesinas of Perú now have a tentative slot in the 2020 Olympics. We say tentative because, should there be two surfers of their same gender and nationality who qualify for the Olympics through either the 2019 Championship Tour or 2020 ISA World Games, their spots will be forfeited to those persons due to the hierarchy of the Olympic qualification system.
However, because Perú has no surfers on the CT (male or female), and due to the statistical unlikelihood of two surfers of Rosas’ or Mesinas’ same gender and nationality qualifying through the 2020 ISA World Games, it’s almost guaranteed that the Peruvians will retain their Olympic bids.
Rosa is currently ranked 97th on the WSL Qualifying Series and Mesinas is number 82 (both of these numbers will drop following the conclusion of the US Open). Alas, they are now two of the 40 total surfers who will compete on surfing’s biggest-ever stage in Tokyo 2020.
This is really cool for them, but what does it say about surfing’s Olympic qualification system? One that, due to its tendency to overlap with major QS events, ensures some of the elite surfers who should have competed in the Pan-Am Games, didn’t.
You might remember Lucca Mesinas’ name from a recent story we did on the ISA and WSL’s apparent power struggle, and how that friction has forced surfers to choose between competing in the US Open (for a potential CT qualification) and the Pan-Am Games (for a potential Olympic qualification).
“It was a hard decision for sure, but the guys have a lot of 10,000 events, so I thought it made more sense to surf the Pan-American Games rather than the US Open,” Mesinas said when we interviewed him for that story. “First because it’s at my home in Perú, and the [Peruvian Surf] Federation is giving us a lot of support—money, training, everything—so I had to choose to compete here. And second, if you win here, you get a spot in the Olympics.”
Governmental pressures aside, Mesinas and Rosas put faith in themselves to win the Pan-Am Games, and it has paid dividends. They will now be Olympic athletes (the first of surfing-kind!), opening up a new world of cultural and career opportunities.
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