Kiwi surfers Paige Hareb (Tara) and Saffi Vette (Gis) have Olympic qualification in their sights as they get ready to head to the ISA World Surfing Games being held in El Salvador at the end of the month.
The two surfers are the only New Zealand representatives at the event. They will need to finish inside the top seven unqualified athletes in the women’s field in order to qualify for the Tokyo 2020.
Hareb (30) and Vette (19) have been in good domestic form this season, Vette claiming the National Championships in January before winning the South Island Championships in April. Hareb has also topped the podium once this year, winning the Rip Curl Pro in March and finishing third at the National Championships. This will be their first international outing since the start of 2020.
The International Surfing Association World Surfing Games is expected to feature over 200 athletes from upwards of fifty nations. This year the event includes the existing Olympic qualifiers that secured their spots by competing on the World Tour. They include 2019 World and defending event champion Italo Ferreira (BZL) and 2019 WSL World Champion Carissa Moore (USA). Peru’s Sofia Mulanovich won the Women’s Division in 2019.
Hareb spent eight years competing on the World Tour against the best athletes on the planet so is no stranger to the intense level of competition expected at this year’s event. She will want to make up for the lost opportunity to qualify in 2019 when Ella Williams (WGM) claimed Oceania’s provisional spot by way of finishing 29th place at the 2019 edition of the event, the highest placed surfer from Oceania.
Saffi Vette is no stranger to international competition either, representing New Zealand on several occasions through the junior ranks. In 2019, Vette was on course to make the final of ISA World Junior Championships in California before incurring an interference which left her in sixth place at the event. Vette’s aggressive approach to her surfing will stand up well in the Open Women’s arena in El Salvador. The event will be staged at either end of the bay, a righthand point break called El Sunzal at one end and a left hand point break called La Bocana at the other end.
Should both surfers finish inside the top seven unqualified females at the event, they will bump Williams out of her provisional spot. If one Kiwi finishes inside the top seven, they will join Williams at Tokyo 2020 in July.
Williams opted out of travelling to El Salvador for health and safety reasons as did Billy Stairmand and plus other athletes. A World Surf League Australasian Qualifying Series event scheduled for late June in Australia has meant further athletes have chosen to travel to Australia to compete instead of El Salvador.
Surfing is being contested at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for the first time in July. Twenty males and twenty females will compete at the event with country’s fielding a maximum of two athletes in each category. The 2021 ISA World Surfing Games is the final opportunity for athletes to qualify with seven spots up for grabs in the Women’s Division and five in the Men’s Division.
In 2019 Ella Williams was joined by Billy Stairmand as the two Oceania qualifiers, Stairmand finishing eighth at the event to secure his provisional spot. The highest placed male and female from Oceania secured Olympic spots provided they finished inside the top 30 at the event.
The 2021 ISA World Surfing Games is being streamed live. El Salvador is 18 hours behind New Zealand. Action will take place from approximately 2:00am (NZT) each morning of the event.
The Olympic qualification process started with the World Surf League (WSL) where ten males and 8 females on the 2019 World Tour directly qualified for Tokyo 2020. No more than two athletes per nation can qualify via this process.
The top ranked male and female surfers from four continents qualified via the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games. The Americas had a stand-alone qualification event to determine their continental qualifiers.
View the full Olympic qualification system.
About International Surfing Association (ISA)
The International Surfing Association (ISA) is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the World Governing Authority for surfing, bodyboarding, SUP and surfriding. It was originally founded as the International Surfing Federation in 1964 and has been running world championships since 1964, and the Junior World Championships since 1980.
For further information on the New Zealand Surfing Team please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email email@example.com.
High resolution action images of team members will be available to media free of charge upon request.
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Author: Ben Kennings