2019 ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans Charges into Home Stretch Towards Historic Team and Men’s Medals

Posted - News Posted for ISA News, Japan News, World Surfing News.

Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam and New Zealand’s Billy Stairmand capture provisional Tokyo 2020 continental qualification; Asia and Europe continental slots still in play 

Main Event Semifinals set, five rounds of Repechage remain to arrive at Grand Final

Brazil holds lead in Team Ranking, USA and Japan in close pursuit

USA’s Kelly Slater: “Surfing has a culture that hasn’t been seen in the Olympics” 

The 2019 ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans has arrived at the final stretch of competition, setting the stage to crown the Team and Men’s Gold Medalists this weekend in Miyazaki, Japan.

Gabriel Medina leading Team Brazil to the top of the team rankings as the event heads into the final stretch. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Gabriel Medina leading Team Brazil to the top of the team rankings as the event heads into the final stretch. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Depending on how conditions play out, the competition could crown Champions as early as Saturday, September 14th. If conditions do not cooperate on Saturday, the event will conclude on Sunday, September 15th

Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam and New Zealand’s Billy Stairmand both earned provisional continental qualification slots for Tokyo 2020 as the last standing surfers from Africa and Oceania, respectively.

Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam could be smiling all the way to Tokyo 2020 as he captured the provisional African continental slot. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam could be smiling all the way to Tokyo 2020 as he captured the provisional African continental slot. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

The continental slots for Europe and Asia are still up for grabs. 

The European surfers that remain as potential qualifiers are Portugal’s Federico Morais, Spain’s Vicente Romero, Germany’s Leon Glatzer, and Italy’s Angelo Bonomelli.

With Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi likely to qualify for Tokyo 2020 via the 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour, the remaining eligible surfers vying for the Asian continental slot are Japan’s Shun Murakami and Hiroto Ohhara along with Indonesia’s Rio Waida.

Learn more about the qualification process for Tokyo 2020 here.

Indonesia’s Rio Waida will contest the Asian continental slot for Tokyo 2020 with Team Japan. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Indonesia’s Rio Waida will contest the Asian continental slot for Tokyo 2020 with Team Japan. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

The Men’s Main Event Semifinals are full of star-studded talent and include a pair teammates in each. Semifinal 1 will feature Portugal’s Federico Morais facing off against USA’s Kelly Slater and Kolohe Andino, while Semifinal 2 will feature Brazilian teammates Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina with Morocco’s Ramzi Boukhiam

After a day full of Repechage elimination rounds the team rankings started to become clearer, as team Brazil held onto the lead with Ferreira and Medina remaining in the Main Event.

Team USA is in close pursuit in Silver Medal position with both Slater and Andino remaining unbeaten in the event as well. 

Following Team USA is the defending World Champion Japan and Spain looking for podium berths of their own.

See results and team rankings here.

USA’s Slater spoke about his experience at the event as well as his thoughts on the Olympics after advancing in the Main Round. 

“Being here reminds me of the old days,” said Slater. “I surfed a lot of team events when I was younger around the world and I miss those days. It’s been fun this week seeing the excitement that everyone has. 

“There is a funny little balance of power between the ‘favorites’ and the guys from countries that you don’t know surfing is a big part of. It’s nice when you see one of the underdogs win a heat. 

“The biggest surprise for me this week has been seeing a team from Iran and Afghanistan. It’s cool to see that the culture is alive and well in those places. 

“I think Surfing has a culture that hasn’t yet been seen in the Olympics. Our community is such a varying group of people. Anyone and everyone anywhere in the world can love surfing, and even if they don’t surf they love what it looks like. The exposure that we have traveling around the world with different languages, culture, and people makes for such a variety of life in Surfing. I am not sure that you can name another sport that has that.

“As I am here seeing all the different competing countries, I think that Surfing will be a good fit in the Olympics.”

After losing in his first Main Event heat, the 2018 and two-time Men’s Gold Medalist Santiago Muñiz (ARG) battled through a marathon day of Repechage heats to remain alive in the competition. 

“It’s been a long road after losing my first heat,” said Muñiz. “Winning Gold two times was already a dream, so it’s hard to imagine a third.”

Costa Rica’s Jair Pérez surfed well for his nation in the Men’s division and despite an impressive performance he fell out of the event. However, Perez reflected on what it means to be representing his country and opened up about his inspiring story.

“I grew up in poverty with nine brothers and sisters in an apartment with my mom and an alcoholic dad,” said Perez. “Remembering where I come from motivates me. It makes you realize there is so much more to life beyond surfing. Being here representing my nation in the sport I love is a blessing.” 

Rain or shine, the local Japanese fans have been showing up in the thousands on a daily basis, displaying the popularity of Surfing in Japan. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

Rain or shine, the local Japanese fans have been showing up in the thousands on a daily basis, displaying the popularity of Surfing in Japan. Photo: ISA / Sean Evans

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“We are witnessing history in the making at the World Surfing Games. Today we saw an additional two surfers provisionally qualify for the Olympics. These are surfers that will be thrust onto the world’s greatest sporting stage, and become household names around the world. 

“It’s especially gratifying for me personally to realize that surfers here today are Duke Kahanamoku’s dream coming true. These are the actual humans who personify and breathe the dream that was born over a century ago.

“The final stretch of competition will be a milestone for surfing on multiple levels. We will crown Gold Medalists with the world’s best surfers representing their nations, athletes will earn their slots for the Olympic Games, and a record-breaking 55 nations take their experiences home to spread the joy of Surfing and continue growing the sport.” 

The 2019 ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans is broadcast Sept 7-15 on www.isasurf.org

Within the country of Japan, the broadcast is exclusively available on Abema TV

View the day 8 schedule here.

About the International Surfing Association:

The International Surfing Association (ISA), founded in 1964, is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. The ISA governs and defines Surfing as Shortboard, Longboard & Bodyboarding, StandUp Paddle (SUP) Racing and Surfing, Bodysurfing, Wakesurfing, and all other wave riding activities on any type of waves, and on flat water using wave riding equipment. The ISA crowned its first Men's and Women's World Champions in 1964. It crowned the first Big Wave World Champion in 1965; World Junior Champion in 1980; World Kneeboard Champions in 1982; World Longboard Surfing and World Bodyboard Champions in 1988; World Tandem Surfing Champions in 2006; World Masters Champions in 2007; and World StandUp Paddle (SUP, both surfing and racing) and Paddleboard Champions in 2012.

ISA membership includes the surfing National Federations of 108 countries on five continents. The ISA is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (ARG). The Executive Committee includes four Vice-Presidents Karín Sierralta (PER), Kirsty Coventry (ZIM), Casper Steinfath (DEN) and Barbara Kendall (NZL), Athletes' Commission Chair Justine Dupont (FRA), Regular Members Atsushi Sakai (JPN) and Jean Luc Arassus (FRA) and ISA Executive Director Robert Fasulo as Ex-officio Member.

Its headquarters are located in La Jolla, California (USA).

For more information, please visit www.isasurf.org

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