Record-breaking 55 Nations Set to Kick-Off 2019 ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans

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Brazil’s Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo, USA’s Caroline Marks, South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag and Japan’s Sara Wakita join dignitaries at official press conference to discuss upcoming competition and Olympic qualification

ISA President Fernando Aguerre: “This is an incredible, historic time for the sport”

Filipe Toledo (BRA): “ISA World Surfing Games shows how big the sport really is” 

240 athletes from 55 nations have gathered in Miyazaki, Japan, set to celebrate the inauguration of the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans at the Opening Ceremony on Saturday. 

From left to right: Members of Team Brazil, Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo, NSA President Atsushi Sakai, Governor of Miyazaki Prefecture Shunji Kono, ISA President Fernando Aguerre, member of Team Japan Sara Wakita, member of Team USA Caroline Marks, and member of Team South Africa Bianca Buitendag. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

From left to right: Members of Team Brazil, Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo, NSA President Atsushi Sakai, Governor of Miyazaki Prefecture Shunji Kono, ISA President Fernando Aguerre, member of Team Japan Sara Wakita, member of Team USA Caroline Marks, and member of Team South Africa Bianca Buitendag. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

The athletes hailing from all continents of the globe will kick off the festivities with the Parade of Nations and the legendary Sands of the World Ceremony.

2019 is set to be a historic edition of the event, as it will be the first to directly qualify athletes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The official press conference gathered top dignitaries and athletes on Saturday afternoon ahead of the inauguration of the event.

The conference’s panel included ISA President, Fernando Aguerre, Governor of Miyazaki Prefecture, Shunji Kono, President of the Nippon Surfing Association (NSA), Atsushi Sakai, members of Team Brazil Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina, member of Team USA Caroline Marks, member of Team South Africa Bianca Buitendag, and member of Team Japan Sara Wakita.

“As the first edition of the World Surfing Games to qualify athletes for the Olympics, this is an incredible, historic time for the sport,” said ISA President Fernando Aguerre to kick off the press conference. 

“24 years ago Olympic Surfing was a crazy dream. But everything starts with a crazy, impossible idea to make a dream become a reality. We’ve now brought surfing to the greatest sporting stage, the Olympic Games.” 

“Miyazaki is a tropical surfing paradise and I would like to thank the governor and the people of Miyazaki for once again receiving us with open arms.” 

Governor of Miyazaki Prefecture Shunji Kono and NSA President Atsushi Sakai followed: 

“We extend a very warm welcome to all the best surfers from around the world,” said Kono. “With Olympic inclusion, surfing is growing and gaining in popularity around the world, so I recognize the importance of bringing this event to the Miyazaki Prefecture.”

Sakai said, “As an enthusiastic surfer myself, I hope that this competition inspires many people to follow the sport and that it strengthens the position of Surfing among other major sports in the Olympic Movement.” 

Brazil’s Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo share their excitement to represent their nation in the event. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Brazil’s Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo share their excitement to represent their nation in the event. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

Brazilian teammates, both past ISA Junior Gold Medalists, Filipe Toledo and Gabriel Medina, commented on the excitement ahead of representing their nations in the competition.

“It’s an honor to be here today,” said Toledo. “With 55 countries from around the world participating, this event truly shows you how big Surfing is.

“Surfing for a Gold Medal in the Olympics will be much bigger than anything that we currently have in the sport. There is a long road to Tokyo, but I hope to be there and win a Gold Medal for my country.” 

“You have only one shot to perform at the Olympics, which makes it exciting and special,” added Medina. “I am excited to compete here in Japan for the first time. It’s a big moment for our sport.” 

USA’s Caroline Marks won ISA Junior Gold in 2016, and now returns to represent her nation in an ISA team format. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

USA’s Caroline Marks won ISA Junior Gold in 2016, and now returns to represent her nation in an ISA team format. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed

USA’s Caroline Marks, an ISA Junior Gold Medalist in her own right, shared her thoughts on returning to the ISA format.

“Surfing is such an individual sport, so to compete as a team and feel all the support is incredible,” said Marks. “I am looking forward to competing against so many people and countries that I don’t usually surf against.”

South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag added, “The opportunity to qualify for Tokyo 2020 at the World Surfing Games is particularly special for a country like South Africa.

“We don’t get as many opportunities or resources as some of the more developed nations, but it’s amazing that we have a real chance to qualify, as well as other African nations such as Senegal. 

“The Olympic Games celebrate diversity, which the country representation here in Miyazaki demonstrates well.”

Sara Wakita represented the defending Gold Medalist and host nation of Japan, which earned its first Team World Champion Title at the 2018 edition. 

“This is an exciting and honorable moment,” said Wakita. “The level of competition is high, but at the same time I would like to get a Gold Medal for Japan and I don’t think this is an impossible task.”

Sri Lanka’s P.B. Praneeth Sandaruwan warming up at Kisakihama Beach ahead of the event. Photo: ISA / Pablo Jimenez

Sri Lanka’s P.B. Praneeth Sandaruwan warming up at Kisakihama Beach ahead of the event. Photo: ISA / Pablo Jimenez

The 2019 WSG presented by Vans will commence at 11am on Saturday with the Opening Ceremony at the Miyazaki Prefectural Sports Park. 

The tentative schedule is as follows:

September 7

  • Parade of Nations and Opening Ceremony 11:00 AM
  • Likely start to Open Women

September 8/9

  • Open Women

September 10

  • Aloha Cup (TBC)
  • Open Women
  • Start to Open Men

September 11

  • Finals Open Women
  • Open Men competition continues

September 15

  • Finals Open Men
  • Closing Ceremony 

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.