Yesterday the WSL sent out a press release shedding some light on the qualification process for surfing’s debut at the 2020 Olympics.
“In principle, the agreement will see up to 18 of the 40 places at the Games reserved for WSL Championship Tour (CT) surfers (10 men and eight women), with the remaining 22 places 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).
With the support of the WSL, the ISA eligibility rules for Olympic participation will require surfers to make themselves available for their national teams to compete in the ISA World Surfing Games in 2019 and 2020 and, if selected by their National Federation, to participate.”
Basically, it looks like the field will be made up of the top 10 ranked mens CT surfers, the top 8 women, plus the top 10 men and top 12 women who accrue the best placings over two ISA World Games and the Pan American Games in Lima. Whether these events will be treated as a series, or whether it will be the top finishers from each is as yet unclear.
But what does this mean for Britain? Well, it means to be in with a chance of qualifying for the Olympic games, we first need to see our men and women making it to the final rounds of the ISA’s open divisions, which is no mean feat and not something we’ve accomplished in recent years. The field is also likely to become tougher too, as more high level surfers previously disinterested in the ISA’s throw their hat in the ring as they vie for their place in the Olympics.
In terms of who Britain would send, we assume the process would be similar to today, where the athletes are selected based on their performances in regional competitions. Indeed, Surfing England’s Nick Rees told us in an interview earlier this year that there will probably be a series of local contests, starting in July 2018, to determine who’s in. He also added:
“The [national] federations will get together and submit a GB team for any event that’s qualifying for the Olympics. So you might see an England team going for the junior championships, as well as a Welsh and a Channel Islands team, but when it comes to the open stuff we’ll get together and submit a GB team.”
A lot of this is still just conjecture, but as of right now, this is our best guesstimate of how qualification will work. We’ll update with more as we get it.