Five Surfers Qualify For Paris Olympics Via ISA Games
OK, full disclosure: I've got very little interest in the ISA World Surfing Games and even professional obligations can't compel me to make sense of the labyrinthine format. There are, however, Olympic Game places at stake which are of some interest.
As of yesterday, five spots for the 2024 Olympics had been decided at the ISA Games. They are, South Africans Jordy Smith and Sarah Baum, New Zealanders Saffi Vette and Billy Stairmand, and Japan’s Shino Matsuda.
It's the second time Jordy has qualified for the Olympics, however he pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics citing a knee injury.
"Having the opportunity to surf at Teahupo’o is going to be insane," said Jordy. "I’ve been going there since I was 14-years-old, so I’ve got a lot of experience. Hopefully Mother Nature plays ball on those days and we come away with gold.”
Jordy also has a chance to double qualify (via the CT), and if that happens his spot will go to the next eligible ranked surfer in the 2023 ISA Games regardless of continent.
Smith’s teammate Sarah Baum is a 29-year old, 11-year veteran of the Qualifying Series with a high place finish of 11th back in 2011.
Kiwis Billy Stairmand and Saffi Vette took the two Oceania slots. Stairmand - who will compete in his second games - gained qualification by beating Ethan Ewing and Ryan Callinan. “I feel like in Tokyo I kind of left a little bit out there," said Stairmand, who almost beat eventual winner Italo Ferreira in their Rd 3 clash at Shidashita Beach.
“I’m obviously excited, but really terrified too,” said Vette of gaining qualification. “I’ve never been to Tahiti before. I’m really excited to give it a red hot crack."
The fifth spot was another second-time qualifier. Japan's Shino Matsuda is another QS surfer, currently ranked 8th in Japan's regional QS rankings.
In total there are eight Olympic slots on offer at the ISA Games. The three remaining slots will go to a man from Asia, and both a man and woman from Europe.