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Jordy Smith moves closer to being first SA Surfer to qualify for Olympics

World number six surfer Jordy Smith is in a strong position to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, where surfing is one of four sports that will debut.

Smith, along with some of the world’s best surfers, are presently in action at the 2019 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) event, the J-Bay Open, in the Eastern Cape town of Jeffreys Bay.

“To be the first South African surfer to go would be a great honour, and I’m working towards that goal,” said Smith in an interview.

The final rankings will be determined following the final CT events of 2019 (the Hawaii Pro and Billabong Pipe Masters).

While the world rankings will determine the first 18 eligible Olympic qualifiers (10 men and eight women), the remaining 22 places will be determined at the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, and a single slot (each for men and women) for the host nation, Japan.

There is a maximum of two men and two women for each country that can qualify.

To celebrate the countdown to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the WSL has launched where fans can follow the qualification race and see the rankings.

61fb8d08 jordy smith in action at j bay warming up for corona open j bay - Jordy Smith moves closer to being first SA Surfer to qualify for Olympics
Photo: Craig Kolesky / Red Bull Content Pool

Jordy Smith’s credentials

Smith established himself as one of the world’s best up-and-coming surfers in 2003 when he won the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Championships. In 2006 he was crowned ASP World Junior Champion and ISA World Champion. Then in 2007 – aged just 19 – he won the WQS (World Qualifying Series) to qualify for the elite ASP World Tour.

Smith finished runner-up in his first year on the ASP World Tour in 2010 after winning the Billabong Pro at his beloved J-Bay. He won at J-Bay again in 2011 and moved to the top of the rankings, setting up what many thought would be his World Title year. Unfortunately, a rib injury sustained at Teahupoʻo put an end to his campaign that year.

In 2012 he released his biopic Bending Colours (from the studios of Kai Neville) which went on to earn a 2012 Surfer Poll ‘Movie of the Year’ nomination and no doubt adorns the collections of thousands of aspiring grommets around the world.

Smith carved into 2013 with a free-surfing trip to tropical Mozambique and it set him up for a huge year – he won the Billabong Pro in Rio, claimed gold at the X-Games and finished runner at the Mr Price Pro in Durban. Outside of the contest arena Smith solidified his standing as one of the most innovative surfers in the world with the release of Now Now, which became a YouTube sensation.

2014 saw the dynamic regular-footer win the Hurley Pro at Trestles in the USA, finish third at the Quiksilver Pro, France and second at the Moche Rip Curl Pro, Portugal. The 2014 season didn’t end on quite the high Smith was lining up for with his mid-year run, when a shoulder injury in round two of the Pipe Masters against Dusty Payne ended his season.

It setup a 2015 where the 28-year-old Durbanite spent more time out of the water than in, and being unable to compete on the World Surfing League’s elite Championship Tour.

He bounced back in 2016 however. After a slow start to the year he kick-started his campaign by winning his second Hurley Pro at Trestles and made a charge through the second half of the season to finish second overall on the World Rankings.

Smith turned in another Top 5 finish in 2017, this after claiming the iconic Bell’s Beach title in April.

2018 was an up-and-down season for the man, yet a string of third-place finishes, including a very impressive run at the season-ending Billabong Pipe Masters, saw him finish in fifth once-again.

Note: Additional reporting by Red Bull.

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