Tuesday, October 19

Surfing ready to take a dip in the Olympics and get away from stereotypes | Tokyo 2020 Olympics

TOAt the prestigious Billabong Pipeline Masters in 2019, the final event of the last completed season of the World Surf League Championship Tour (CT), Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina emerged in the final to duel for the world title. It was a significant event. Paddling in the crystal clear waters of Oahu, Hawaii, the two most prominent Brazilian surfers of the moment clashed for the biggest prize in the sport, a reflection of the present and possible future of surfing. Once a sport dominated by Americans and Australians, Brazil has usurped both as the focal point of the men’s field today.

When the competition began, it demonstrated one of the most underrated and fascinating aspects of competitive surfing. Medina, a two-time world champion, is known for his mental toughness, but 10 seconds into the competition, Medina tentatively withdrew from the first wave as Ferreira advanced and took advantage of it for himself. It thundered down the side of the wave, rolling gently at the bottom before emerging triumphantly at the end. The crowd on the beach cheered. The tone was set. Ferreira had immediately reasserted himself and in the next 39 minutes, a restless Medina was unable to perform well enough to deny him a first world title.

At its best, surfing is that one-on-one mental contest that is often won by those who choose their waves wisely, understand the conditions better, and can even intimidate opponents with their mere presence, without losing sight of them. It is also, quite simply, one of the supreme athletic feats in sports. Surfers slide down the walls of the water, emerge from crashing barrels, and soar into the air, landing on the changing surface below. The immense central strength, the legs of a tree trunk, balance and power are necessary attributes.

As surfing enters the Olympic fold, the first question is simply whether it will work. Of all the places for surfing to make its Olympic debut, this place is not an ideal place to show the sport to the rest of the world. The smaller the wave, the less the opportunity for surfers to show the full breadth of their skills. Enter Tsurigasaki Beach, the site of the surfing event in Chiba, about 40 miles outside of Tokyo, which is well known for its tiny waves during the summer.

Of all the places for surfing to make its Olympic debut, Tsurigasaki Beach is not an ideal place to showcase the sport.
Of all the places for surfing to make its Olympic debut, Tsurigasaki Beach is not an ideal place to showcase the sport. Photograph: Carl Court / Getty Images

There are also few events more difficult to follow than surfing, which relies on the most unpredictable battlefield of all sports: the ocean. Any day of competition requires the right conditions to be met or is postponed to another day. Competition days and broadcast coverage may span a seemingly endless flow of hours with ample downtime. In addition to their real opponents, surfers compete against the ocean and even against the judges’ subjective scoring, which can lead to unsatisfactory results.

And yet there is a lot of joy in following this sport. One of the recent emotions has been the clear and steady improvement in women’s CT. The tour is now offering equal prize money and the female surfers continue to get more dynamic with a deepening pool of talents. The progression was underlined by Carissa Moore from Hawaii, the current dominant figure. In April, she threw an air-reverse high in the sky, becoming the first woman to execute such a maneuver in competition. When Moore clutched his face in disbelief after landing, his opponent, Johanne Defay, clapped from the water.

Gabriel Medina from Brazil works out on a wave off Surf Ranch during practice rounds for the Olympics.
Gabriel Medina from Brazil works out on a wave off Surf Ranch during practice rounds for the Olympics. Photograph: Gary Kazanjian / AP

Few characters are currently more absorbing than Medina, a defining figure of the last decade in surfing. His first world title in 2014 helped catalyze the rise of Brazilian surfing and his success has made him a superstar at home, reflected in his number on social media and his close friendship with Neymar, but for others his relentless win-win mentality. coast. has marked him as the resident villain. His cruelty has led to incidents ranging from the “interference” dramas of 2019 when he blocked an opponent from taking a wave in the last minutes of your contest, to some comic outbursts early in his career.

Above all, however, Medina is a phenomenal surfer. He creates some of the most staggering height in the air, however, he is extremely well rounded in his strengths. At times, he seems to slow down time, generating a steady stream of excellence from a large number of waves as his enemies struggle to keep up. Its ability to consistently produce has been unrivaled this year.

Fast guide

New Olympic sports in Tokyo 2020


Baseball and Softball

Returning for the first time since Beijing 2008, both sports will find a willing audience in Japan, where they are extremely popular. Men compete in baseball, in which the pitch is overhead and reaches more than 100 mph from a distance of 60 feet. Women compete in softball in which the pitch is low and reaches around 60 mph from just 40 feet. No British interest.


Born in Japan and will take place at the Nippon Budokan, considered the spiritual home of martial arts. Kata, the solo division, will see athletes demonstrate their techniques alone. In the Kumite, they will be judged on three-minute flights in three different weight classes. No British interest.


Held at the Ariake Urban Sports Park, skateboarding is divided into two divisions. The park will take place in a smooth course, while the street will include obstacles such as benches, stairs, rails, and slopes. Britons Sky Brown and Bombette Martin, aged 13 and 14, will compete in the park competition.


Divided into three divisions: bouldering, speed and advantage. In bouldering, athletes complete a series of routes in as few attempts as possible, while in speed two athletes face off with the simple goal of reaching the top first. In the leading division, the climbers ascend for six minutes and the winner is the person who finishes highest. British Interest: Shauna Coxsey


Surfing will take place 40 miles from Tokyo at Tsurigasaki Beach and will take the form of 30-minute heats, with the first rounds being conducted as heats of four to five competitors before subsequent rounds become one-to-one competitions. Surfers will be judged by judges, who will award a score of 10 based on speed, power, and flow.

3×3 Basketball

A more structured version of pickup basketball that is played recreationally around the world, teams consisting of three players and a substitute will compete in half court with a basket. They will play up to 21 points, with the leading team winning if the match is not decided in 10 minutes. No British interest.

Thank you for your comments.

Some object to surfing as an Olympic sport, seeing it as a way of life much more than a competition, while others fear even more crowded beaches that could stem from ever-increasing popularity.

Regardless, what these Olympics represent for surfers and also for all new sports is the opportunity to demonstrate your profession on the biggest stage, showing all the athleticism, skill, talent and work necessary to be successful, that his sport is often still cloaked in outdated stereotypes.

Curious viewers will get a glimpse of surfing for the first time and then have a chance to linger beyond for the next two weeks. Time will tell if they do.


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