11x World Champ may not have qualified via the CT; but there’s another way.
So, you’re saying there’s a chance…
After finishing the 2023 Championship Tour season with a dismal 23rd place, Kelly Slater, the greatest surfer to ever live, was not looking good to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics, to be held at one of Slater’s favorite waves, Teahupo’o, Tahiti.
With only two slots allotted per country, per gender, there were a handful of American surfers ahead of Slater on the rankings; the two Team USA slots provisionally went to Hawaii’s John John Florence and California’s Griffin Colapinto.
Slater was left in the dust; the only trophy left in surfing for him to win, out of reach.
Or so it seemed.
We reached out to the International Surfing Association (ISA) for clarification on the matter, and to see if there was any possibility that Slater – as he’s wont to do – could beat the odds, bend the rules, pull the GOAT card, and somehow, someway slide into the Olympics and go for that elusive Gold Medal to cap off his career.
From the ISA’s Marketing and Media Director, Federico Ferroni:
“Technically, according to the published Olympic Qualification System, Team USA could win a 3rd slot for the men’s team by finishing as the highest ranked men’s team at next year’s ISA World Surfing Games in Puerto Rico. The decision on who would receive the 3rd slot would then be up the US Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).”
Per the Olympic Qualification System handbook, section D, article I, mentioned above:
“The National Olympic Committee (NOC) with the highest ranked team for Men at the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) will obtain one quota place. In case the allocation goes to an NOC that has already qualified two athletes, such NOC would be allowed to enter in the Paris 2024 Surfing competition a third athlete.”
So, see you in Puerto Rico, Slater?
(Oh, and by the way, the same goes for Tokyo 2020 Gold Medalist, Italo Ferreira, who could get a third slot for Team Brazil after Filipe Toledo and Joao Chianca already qualified, and Italo was sidelined for the latter half of the year from an injury at J-bay.)
Just for reference, here’s a reminder on the hierarchy of Olympic surfing qualification:
- 2023 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour: First 10 eligible men and first 8 eligible women.
- 2023 ISA World Surfing Games: 4 men and 4 women selected based on their continent. Top finishing eligible surfer of each gender from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
- 2023 Pan American Games: First eligible man and first eligible woman in the surfing competitions.
- 2024 ISA World Surfing Games: First 5 eligible men and first 7 eligible women.
- 2024 ISA World Surfing Games: The winning teams by gender, will qualify 1 place for their respective country/NOC, regardless of the 2-per country quota limit.
- 2022 ISA World Surfing Games: The winning teams by gender, will qualify 1 place for their respective country/NOC, regardless of the 2-per country quota limit.
- Host nation slot: One man and one woman slot will be guaranteed for the host nation of France, unless already filled through the above hierarchies. Should athletes from France qualify regularly, their slots will be reallocated to the highest ranked eligible surfers from the 2024 World Surfing Games.
- Universality Place: For the first time, one place per gender will be made available to eligible NOCs. Special consideration will be given to the nature of the wave in Teahupoo in terms of the eligibility criteria for these places. Should there deemed to be no qualified surfers in this category, these slots will be reallocated to the highest ranked eligible surfers from the 2024 World Surfing Games The complete process and selection criteria for these places will be communicated by the IOC at a later date.
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