Despite a looming tropical storm that threw surfing's debut at the Olympics into utter chaos, U.S. star Carissa Moore emerged victorious with the sport's first Olympic gold medal.
It was never in doubt for the 28-year-old Hawaiian against South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag. Moore, the top-ranked female surfer in the world, put together an impressive 7.66 run that made up more than half her total score, winning 14.93–8.46.
With seconds remaining, Buitendag paddled in to give Moore a victory wave as the Honolulu native rode in to her jubilant team. On the international surfing circuit, Moore proudly waves the Hawaiian flag after tournament wins. But on Tuesday, the four-time world champion wrapped the American flag around her shoulders after making surfing history.
Moore's toughest test actually came in the semifinal against Japan's Amuro Tsuzuki, who said that she has been surfing at Tsurigasaki Beach for the last four years. But Moore just edged past her, 8.33–7.43, while Tsuzuki would go on to win bronze over the United States' Caroline Marks.
The final rounds were moved from Wednesday to Tuesday with Tropical Storm Nepartak threatening the debut event, meaning surfers had to compete in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final rounds all on the same day.
In the men's event, 2019 world champion Italo Ferreira won the gold medal for Brazil over Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi.
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