Owen Wright celebrates winning the bronze medal with the Australian team at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach in Japan. Photo: FRANCISCO SECO/AP
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AFTER three days of fierce competition in everything from waist-high wedges to overhead typhoon surf, reigning World Surf League (WSL) champions Carissa Moore and Italo Ferreira have won the first Olympic gold medals for surfing.
Four-time WSL Champion Moore was able to hold on against South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag, while 2019 WSL champion Ferreira’s finals run on Tuesday last week was not to be halted, even by Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi.
Both Buitendag and Igarashi earned silver medals for their respective efforts.
Rounding out the podium last week and earning the bronze was Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki and Australia’s Owen Wright, who were both strong competitors throughout the entire competition at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach.
“Getting to share the sport with so many people that maybe have never even watched surfing was super special,” Moore said.
“As a Hawaiian, just seeing Duke Kahanamoku’s dream come true to have surfing in the Olympics is super special.“It’s a big time for surfing to be recognised on this level.”
Ferreira said all surfers had made history at the event.
“Every surfer has a piece of this gold medal. I started surfing on a cooler top when I was a kid before I got my first real board and won my first event. Because of (my upbringing) I have a lot of passion for the sport,” he said.
“I truly believe that the Olympics will change our lives. Not just the medallists, but for all the surfers that competed in this historic event.”
Wright faced a tight battle in the semis, defeated by Ferreira by just 0.7 points in a match-up that went right to the final seconds, after the Australian lost priority due to a mishap with a wash-through set that the judges deemed he’d attempted to ride.
But Wright managed to secure a bronze medal for Australia in the heat against Gabriel Medina from Brazil.
Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki won the women’s bronze medal after a strong heat against the USA’s Caroline Marks.After their success in Tokyo, Moore, Ferreira, Igarashi, and Wright will continue to compete on the Championship Tour for the world title, which heads to Mexico for the Corona Open Mexico presented by Quiksilver from August 10-19, followed by Tahiti for the Outerknown Tahiti Pro presented by Shiseido from August 24-September 3, for a chance to qualify for the Rip Curl WSL Finals in September.
For the latest updates, head to the WSL website.