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ISA World Surfing Games Delivers Olympic Slots for USA woman and Japanese man

There couldn’t have been a more dramatic finish to this year’s ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). Olympic hopes rested on the shoulders of many different surfers representing different nations still in contention for a guaranteed slot for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Photo: ISA / Pablo Franco

Team USA took hits to their men’s team with both remaining surfers, Kolohe Andino and Nat Young, eliminated prior to the Final. Gabriela Bryan and Zoe McDougall also had great showings in the women’s draw, but USA’s only remaining surfer was Kirra Pinkerton, who needed to win in order to claim the Olympic slot for an American woman.

The incredible power of Pinkerton’s backhand is what gave her the title of 2018 WSL World Junior Champion and it was precisely what took her to her biggest victory yet, a WSG gold medal.

The veteran experience of Pauline Ado (FRA) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), who have each won multiple prior ISA WSG medals, seemed unstoppable through prior repechage heats, and Ado held the lead for much of the Final. But Pinkerton finished strong, with a phenomenal performance that had massive Olympic implications. Kirra could barely find words to describe how excited she was.

“I’m incredibly happy right now. I don’t even know what to say, this whole week has been really cool,” she said. “Every heat has been almost impossible. The fact that it all came together at the end, I’m just in complete awe right now.”

Photo: ISA / Pablo Franco

Pinkerton also took Team USA to the top of the podium in the overall teams rankings, the first time USA have won the teams gold medal since 2009.

Throughout this year’s WSG, Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) breezed through with the comfort and confidence of champion, surfing with ease and flow, easily dominating every heat surfed. The Huntington Beach local used smooth air reverses to guarantee Japan an Olympic slot for a male surfer.

Photo: ISA / Pablo Franco

Rio Waida (IND), battled hard in the Final, surfing in his fourteenth heat of the event, after falling into the repechage in Round 1. Ultimately however, it was a one man show and Igarashi easily controlled his destiny, with Jackson Baker (AUS) and Guilherme Fonseca (POR) left in the dust, along with Waida.

Buoyed by solid performances from teammates Shun Murukami and Keanu Kamiyama, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics silver medalist and two-time ISA WSG silver medalist was ecstatic to go one step further and fulfill the hopes of his nation.

“That was definitely really special,” Igarashi said. “Obviously an individual win is great but to know that I secured the spot for Japan in the Olympics coming up, wow, that’s such a special feeling. Whether I go or whether one of my teammates goes, just knowing that there will be someone there representing, that means a lot.”

ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:

“The Olympic wave is truly rolling strong after an historic event in Huntington Beach. USA and Japan can now look forward to competing in the mind-blowing waves of Teahupo’o as a part of Paris 2024.

“It has been so special to have this incredible event take place in the location of the very first World Surfing Games at the start of the long surfing paddle to the Olympics in 1996.”

Final 2024 Olympic Qualification Rankings by Gender


  1. USA - 1880

  2. Australia - 1815

  3. France - 1735

  4. Portugal - 1538

  5. Canada - 1280


  1. Japan - 1835

  2. USA - 1555

  3. Indonesia - 1532

  4. Brazil - 1450

  5. Australia - 1435

Open Women’s Division

Gold - Kirra Pinkerton

Silver - Pauline Ado

Bronze - Sally Fitzgibbons

Copper - Daniella Rosas

Open Men’s Division

Gold - Kanoa Igarashi

Silver - Rio Waida

Bronze - Jackson Baker

Copper - Guilherme Fonseca

Overall Teams Rankings

Gold - USA - 3435

Silver - Australia - 3250

Bronze - Portugal - 2928

Copper - France - 2988

Aloha Cup Final Results

Gold - France

Silver - USA

Bronze - Argentina

Copper - Portugal


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