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qualification-1200-th

Sat, 14 September 2019

The last three South Africans are out of the ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans, and Bianca Buitendag is the only one in the Olympics, so far. Spike unpacks how it works.


USA KELLY_SLATER_JIMENEZ

HIP HIP: As Kelly Slater slips on the CT, this could be how he qualifies. Photo ISA / Jimenez


BRA Gabriel_Medina_Sean_Evans-15Brazil and the USA are locked in a tussle for gold going into finals day tomorrow, and South Africa slips to sixth, but are mathematically safe from falling out of the top eight, thus guaranteeing a position in the Aloha Cup next year.

The lustre of that prestige however, is considerably diminished by the race for Olympics qualification, which remains as confusing as hell, but I think I finally have got it, with Bianca qualifying last week via her top African berth at the WSG. Jordy Smith, despite losing early in this event, will qualify if he finishes in the top 10 on the WSL Championship Tour this year.

The positives for South Africa in the WSG at Miyazaki this year are Bianca's great result, especially since she was the highest-placed African, one of four regional slots for Olympic qualification provided for here. South Africa's silver medal in the Aloha Cup is cool in that they beat a star-studded US team into third. Other than that, not much to take home really, and there are other ways to qualify for Tokyo next year.

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MIXED FORTUNES: There are some positives, notably Bianca's Olympics spot. Photo ISA / Evans


Are you still confused about how it works? Okay, so there are 20 Olympic spots for men and 20 for women. In the men, one goes to the host nation, Japan. Kanoa Igarashi changed his nationality from US to Japanese to go after this. The 2019 Pan American Games was given a berth. That goes to Peruvan Lucca Mesinas. As mentioned, 10 spots go to the top 10 on 2019 Championship Tour (CT). Jordy is world #2 and surely can't drop out with four events to go?

The African spot goes to the relatively unknown, Ramzi Boukhiam, from MoroccoFour regional spots are given out at this WSG finishing tomorrow, and already three have qualified. The African spot goes to the relatively unknown, Ramzi Boukhiam, from Morocco, who has progressed further than any of the more fancied Saffas. Boukhiam was the runner-up in the World Junior Championships in 2013, surfing in the final against Gabriel Medina, and is on the QS trying to qualify for the WCT. Well, now he's got a spot on the greatest stage of them all.

The Asian spot is still up for grabs, but we'll know by tomorrow whether it is Japan's Shun Murakami or Indonesia's Rio Waida. They're both in the same Repecharge Round 10 heat. Frederico Morais (POR) gets the European slot and Billy Stairmand (NZL) gets it for Oceania ahead of a bunch of more fancied Aussies.

USA FLAGS_JIMENEZ

DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT: The USA has been killing it, and could well win it. Photo ISA / Jimenez


The final four to make up the men's 20 places will come via the same regions in next year's WSG, so the likes of Beyrick de Vries and Mikey February have another chance. For the National Olympics Committee (NOC) of each country, a maximum of four athletes can go to the Olympics, two from each gender. If more surfers qualify than the quota provided for in each NOC, the next slot goes to the next placed surfer from another NOC in the same region at next year's WSG.

The Qualifying Series is not an official qualification route, since its the tier below the CT. However, it is a criteria to select the team for next year's WSG that could pave the way for a spot at the Olympics.

For the women, it works the same except that eight slots will come from this year's CT rankings, and seven places will be earned at next year's WSG. The Pan American Games berth goes to Daniella Rosas, also from Peru, while the regional spots are awarded to Bianca (Africa); Japan's Shino Matsuda (Asia); Israel's Anat Lelior (Europe) and another New Zealander Ella Williams (Oceania).

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SURELY A SURE BET: Jordy Smith fell early, but can rely on CT ranking. Photo ISA / Reed


As we head into the finals day tomorrow, the contest has become exciting, not least due to this whole Olympics razmattaz, and the intense pressure that is being brought to bear on the surfers. Brazil holds the advantage over USA with all men remaining in the event. The USA have lost Connor Coffin, eliminated in the Repechage Rounds, but Kelly Slater and Kolohe Andino are rocking it. The main event final is going to be a humdinger vs Brazil's Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina.

The two winners of this heat go through to the Grand Finale to meet two from the Repecharge final. That's exciting stuff too. The first heat of the day will be Repecharge 10, comprising two heats that are made up by Morais, Waida and Murakami in one, and Boukhiam, Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Stairmand in the other. Two from each of these heats go into a four-man Repecharge 11 heat. The two winners of this heat will contest the Repecharge final.

The two other spots in the Repecharge final will be filled by two heavy-hitting losers - because it will be two of the following: Slater, Andino, Medina or Ferreira. They get a second crack at the podium, and team gold. Don't bet against the final being all those faces, although Toledo has remained alive in the Repechage Rounds, putting on an incredible performance to ensure his team's current position atop the leaderboard.

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FLIPSIDE: Italo Ferreira makes a mountain out of a mole hill with this aerial. Photo ISA / Jimenez


FINALS DAY (1am ZA time)
Repechage Round 10 (two heats)
Main Event Round 7 (one heat)
Repechage Round 11 (one heat)
Repechage Round 12 (one heat)
Grand Final

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