American Carissa Moore makes history by winning Olympics surfing gold at Tokyo. https://t.co/WnDloicXyk
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 27, 2021
The skateboarders didn’t make it, male surfers disappointed—but Carissa Moore just won Olympic gold for the United States in the first surfing competition ever.
After it was announced that skateboarding and surfing would become part of the Olympics, I was saying to myself, “Well, that’s going to be a bunch of extra gold medals for Team USA.
But to my surprise, two Japanese skaters won gold at the first street competition. Just one day later, we saw Brazilian surfer Italo Ferreira winning gold at the men’s surfing competition. No gold medals for Team USA in two sports that were basically invented in America—and let’s not talk about the basketball team losing against France.
And then Carissa Moore showed the world why she is considered one of the best surfers of all time. The woman who went to the same high school as Barack Obama just won Olympic gold for the United States. Normally, she competes for Hawaii on the world tour, but at the Olympics, all athletes from Hawaii compete for Team USA.
Moore grew up in Hawaii, and most surfers like her see themselves as Hawaiians who usually compete against the American surfers. As every country gets a maximum of two spots at the surfing competition, it was a tough competition to qualify—just ask surfing legend Kelly Slater who wasn’t able to qualify.
There had been a lot of discussion about the wave conditions in Japan.
Originally, it was planned to build a wave pool, which would have guaranteed perfect waves and easier scheduling, but the outrage of surfers around the globe helped organizers to take the right decision and hold the competition at a real beach.
Surfing is about connecting with nature and dealing with given conditions. As Jon Kabat-Zinn put it, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf.”
And that’s exactly what we saw at the first Olympic surf condition. Almost every hobby surfer around the world was able to relate to these conditions—it was choppy, unpredictable, and not even sunny. Everyone who ever paddled into waves like these has an idea of how challenging this competition must have been for all athletes.
The women’s and men’s finalists had to surf their quarterfinal, semifinal, and final within just seven hours. As a mediocre surfer myself, I would have lasted probably one heat of 30 minutes followed by sore shoulders for a week—but three heats at a world-class level on one day?
I also liked seeing that they didn’t use jet skies to pull surfers back out into the waves. This competition was as raw as it gets.
Moore will always be remembered as the Hawaiian surf legend who was able to deal with these challenging conditions. This gold medal crowns an extraordinary career of a surfing legend.
In 2011, she was the first woman ever to compete against men. She won several world championship titles, but this Olympic gold medal is the cherry on the top.
Congratulations to Carissa Moore. Congratulations to Team USA—and, not to forget, congratulations to Team Hawaii.