The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) confirms the names of surfers and coaches who will represent South Africa at the Olympic Games in Japan.
SASCOC has confirmed that Jordan (Jordy) Smith (33) of Durban and Bianca Buitendag (28) of Victoria Bay near George have officially qualified as the first ever South African surfers who will compete in an Olympic Games.
They will represent South Africa at the Tokyo Olympics, which will get under way at 7am with the Men’s Round One on Sunday July 25th at Tsurigasaki Beach in Chiba.
Chiba is over 100km away from the Olympic Village so to cut down travel time and allow effective training availability, the surfers and coaches in Team South Africa will be staying in IOC approved accommodation at the event venue.
This is Surfing’s debut at the Olympics and it is fitting that two of South Africa’s most successful surfers in history, Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag, will be representing South Africa as the sport moves into the Olympics.
Jordy Smith secured his spot at the end of 2019 having finished third on the gruelling World Championship Surfing Tour.
His success in 2019 was due to some excellent results on the World Tour at events held at various venues such as Fiji, Tahiti, the USA, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Hawaii.There is no doubt that Smith is the best surfer to come out of South Africa in four decades and he deserves his spot in Team South Africa.
Smith won the U16 title in Durban at the 2003 International Surfing Association World Junior Championships and won a silver medal in the U18 Division at the 2007 ISA World Junior Championships in Brazil. In 2008 he won the ISA World Championship title at Huntington Beach in California.
Since starting his competitive career as a 10 year old, Smith has represented his Province at South African Championships and South Africa at a number of ISA World Junior Championships and World Surfing Games. He was most recently in the South African Team which came fourth in the ISA World Surfing Games in Japan in 2019.
Bianca Buitendag qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics at the end of 2019 having finished third in the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games in Japan.
This was the third time in as many years that Bianca had won the bronze medal at the ISA World Surfing Games.
She began her professional career as a member of the World Surf League Qualifying Series in 2013. Her success here saw her qualify for the prestigious World Championship Tour which she competed in for five years, achieving great success during this time.
Bianca has been surfing competitively for 18 years and has represented her Province and South Africa at Junior and Senior levels. Her first World Championship contest was in France in 2008, when she was 14 and in 2011 she won silver at the ISA World Junior Championships in Peru. In 2016 she won a South African Sports Award.
In 2017 Bianca was appointed captain of the South African Team and has captained the Team at three successive ISA World Surfing Games.
Buitendag is undoubtedly the best South African women surfer in the World. She is well respected locally and internationally and is not only a brilliant surfer but is also committed to uplifting Women’s surfing in South Africa. In addition she supports numerous outreach projects in South Africa.
Greg Emslie (43) of East London and Isaac February (57) of Cape Town will coach the South African surfers at the Tokyo Olympics.
Emslie competed on the World Championship Tour for ten years and has been a surfer for over 35 years. He is a five time South African Open Men’s Champion, a National age division champion and an ISA World Masters Champion.
He still competes in local and national surfing events. He is an accomplished, dedicated and accredited ISA Level 2 Coach who dedicates his time, energy and experience to up and coming young surfers while playing a major role as the Coach of the South African Surfing Team.
Not only does dedicate his time voluntarily to coach individuals, clubs, district, provincial and junior teams, but has been the coach of the National Team at the ISA World Games for the last five years. He is one of the most respected surf coaches in the world.
February has been involved in surfing at every level for over 30 years and his knowledge of all aspects of surfing from management and coaching of individuals and teams will be a huge asset to both Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag in Japan.
As the father and coach of former South African Team captain and World Championship Tour surfer, Michael February, he has all the expertise and knowledge to be able to guide Smith and Buitendag at the highest level of the sport.
His knowledge of one – on – one coaching and the conditions in Japan will be of great benefit to the South African surfers during the Olympics.
The surfing group will get together in Durban for a final training session shortly before they leave for Japan with their fellow Olympians in mid- July.
The surfing programme runs on Sunday July 25th from 7am to 4.40pm and will involve both Men and Women Rounds One and Two.
Round Three of Men and Women will take place from 7am to 2.20pm on Monday July 26th and on Tuesday July 27th the Men’ and Women’s Quarter Finals and Semi Finals will take place between 7am and 2.20pm.
The Final Day of surfing will take place between 8am and 11.35 am on Wednesday July 28th when the Women’s and Men’s Bronze Medal matches will be followed by the Women’s and Men’s Gold Medal Matches and Victory Ceremonies.
The Surfing Schedule is subject to change depending on wave size and conditions. If conditions allow, the competition will be completed in four days as indicated above. However if more time is required the Surfing tournament might run to August 1st.
Photo: Clive Wright