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Fri, 28 September 2018

The diversity of surfing took a giant step at the UR World Surfing Games at Tahara in Japan this week as we build momentum towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, writes Spike.


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RISING SUN: Japan took a giant leap towards a medal at the Tokyo Games. Photo ISA / Reed


Not many years ago, who would have bet on Japan taking gold at a world surfing event or Spain winning a team event such as the ISA Aloha Cup? The land of the rising sun is not just a rising star. It's a meteorite flashing across the night sky. Japan won the gold medal ahead of the US, Australia and South Africa - the latter's 4th place copper medal spearheaded by bronze from Bianca Buitendag.

The big wigs from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee came down to the beachWith two years to go, these results are a good sign for the hosts but also for beleaguered South Africa, who have slipped in recent times since their gold medal in Panama five years ago. For Japan, the performance of Kanoa Igarashi (silver) and Shun Murakami (copper) and the razor sharp format and organisation of the event will inspire them to be a formidable force in 2020.

The big wigs from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee came down to the beach to see first hand the potential to boost their medal tally in 2020. President Yoshiro Mori was joined by several of his executives to suss it all out. Tokyo 2020 Sports Director Koji Murofushi said:

"Our staff have had the opportunity to learn a great many things, which will help us to prepare for and smoothly manage the Tokyo 2020 Games. With just two years to go, we will continue our preparations for a memorable Tokyo 2020 Games."

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ARGENTINA? Would you have bet on that even five years ago? I wouldn't have. Photo ISA / Reed


To further boost the internationality that surfing has become - and we have ISA President Fernando Aguerre's single-minded focus to thank - an Argentinian, Santiago Muñiz, won the Men's Gold Medal, with the perenially powerful Australians taking gold in the women's in the form of Sally Fitzgibbons.

Nearly 200 athletes from 42 countries appeared at the seven-day event, with Iran, Hungary and the Philippines making their official first appearances. The event also enjoyed excellent waves thanks to a typhoon swell, which was a good thing for Japan's wave receiving cred. The event's live stream and Facebook webcast audience grew considerably, and the Olympic Channel, CBC Canada, Fuel TV and Adrenaline (L'Equipe) TV streamed the Games around the globe.

South African team captain Buitendag went one position further than the corresponding event in France last year, and the 730 points she earned was just enough for the Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African surfing team to overtake Team France, who were beaten out of the medals.

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COPPER CLUB: South Africa were in the medals thanks to Bianca's bronze. Photo ISA / Evans


Only the Team Management, Buitendag, Nicole Pallet and Zoe Steyn were at the closing ceremony. Beyrick de Vries, Davey Van Zyl and Adin Masencamp had left for Portugal to compete in the EDP Billabong Pro Ericiera, where Matt McGillivray is the only South African through to the business end of the competition.

All the WSG guys are out, as well as the QS and CT contingent, including Mikey February who was, like many CT surfers with him, trying to boost his ranking with some backup points.

David van Zyl of Glenashley, Adin Masencamp of the Strand and Beyrick de Vries of Umhlanga finished 8th, 15th and 25th respectively. Nicole Pallet of La Lucia and Zoe Steyn of East London, both of whom made their debuts on the South African team, finished 25th and 37th respectively in the women’s event.

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NEW ERA: Hinako Kurokawa in proud pose as Japan becomes a world beater. Photo ISA / Evans


Women’s Final
1. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) Gold medal 18.64 pts
2. Paige Hareb (NZL) Silver medal 14.66 pts
3. Bianca Buitendag (RSA) Bronze medal 12.30 pts
4. Summer Macedo (USA) Copper medal 11.40 pts

Team Rankings (Top 10 of 42)
1 - Japan – Gold medal – 3,368 pts
2 - Australia - Silver medal – 3,093 pts
3 - USA – Bronze medal – 3,000 pts
4 - South Africa – Copper medal – 2,703 pts
5 - Peru
6 - France
7 - Spain
8 - Argentina
9 – New Zealand
10 - Canada

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