By Matthew Smith |
Surfing legend Kelly Slater says he is excited about his sport making its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, having previously expressed doubts about how it would fit in.
Record 11-time world champion Slater is aiming to make his Olympic debut at the age of 47, and experienced the atmosphere in Japan when he competed at last week’s World Surfing Games in Miyazaki.
Slater was impressed by how the sport was received in Japan, which has helped convince him that surfing can maintain its alternative identity even within the Olympic Movement.
“I’ve definitely had my questions about how it would fit in, just based on the DNA of our sport, our lifestyle,” Slater told AFP.
“It’s more of a lifestyle than a sport in so many ways, 99.9 per cent of people will never compete.
“The Olympics is obviously something more elite, more special, more rare, it comes down to a one-off event and there will be a little bit of luck playing into the skill level also.
“But seeing everyone’s excitement, and how well it’s been received, I think it will fit in pretty good.
“There’s always detractors, because all action sports have been created from within themselves without a governing body, kind of from the grassroots, surfers, skaters and BMX guys.
“People who grew up in that are probably worried it will be watered down or something, but I’m a lot more excited and hopeful about what it’s going to be now that I’ve been here.”
Slater failed to make the final in Miyazaki, but the fact he competed in the World Championship means he remains eligible for Olympic competition.
Only two Americans can qualify for the Games, and Slater faces stiff competition from the likes of Kolohe Andino, John Florence and Seth Moniz.
The men’s event was won by Brazilian surfer Italo Ferreira.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.