Three of NSW’s surfers have won their round 1 heats on surfing’s first-ever day of Olympic Games competition.
The NSWIS-supported Owen Wright, Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore all made the most of their Olympic debuts by comfortably winning their heats to progress directly through to round 3 competition.
Following fellow Australian Julian Wilson’s heat, it was Wright’s turn to ride the waves in heat 4. Opening with a ride scoring 4.43, Wright held second place behind Ramzi Boulkhiam of Morrocco of produced an early 6-point ride. As the lead switched between the two, Wright used his priority strategically to hold off a challenge from the third-placed American, before producing a 5.5 to re-take the lead and win the heat with a score of 10.40.
Next was Gerroa’s Sally Fitzgibbons who started quickly with a 5.5 on her second wave. The World Surfing Games champion struggled to find a strong secondary score, with the Tokyo swells providing some difficulty.
Sitting in third with 1just six minutes remaining, and needing to better her top 5,5 score, Fitzgibbons’ patience paid off, finally finding the right wave to produce a 7-point ride, climbing comfortably into first position and cementing her spot in round 3.
Finishing off for the Irukandjis was Stephanie Gilmore in heat 3 of the women’s competition. The seven-time world champion showed her experience to register scores of 7.83 – the highest of the competition thus far – and a 6.67 for a huge total of 14.50. Gilmore eased into round 3, joining her NSW teammates Fitzgibbons and Wright in the knockout rounds of competition.