Aussie ‘Happy’ Gilmore aims for Olympic gold and another surfing world title
Sydney – Stephanie Gilmore has done just about everything in surfing since her explosion on the pro scene as a 19-year-old rookie in 2007, when she won the first of her seven World Championship titles.
The sport’s Olympic debut this year has presented the Australian with a new challenge and, while standing on the podium in Japan, would likely surpass a record-breaking eighth world title, the hyper-competitive 33-year-old wants it all.
“Of course I would like to do both, it would be great if I could win eight world titles and a gold medal,” Gilmore said at Australia’s recent professional World Surf League stop. “It’s unreal.”
“But realistically, I would probably win a gold medal on an eighth world title. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“To have the chance to show up and compete for Australia, for your country on the Olympic stage and to bring home a medal, that would be really cool. I would love to do that. But I aim to do both. “
Inspired by Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman, who won gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, Gilmore said that as a youngster she envisioned a bunch of different sports that could help her reach the games someday. .
“She was a real superhero and I wanted to do that too,” she added. “So now I have the chance to surf and I hope I can lead the way for the next young surfers to say, ‘hey, we can win a gold medal at the Olympics too.'”
Few of them doubt Gilmore’s ability to reach the podium at the Tokyo Games.
The regular footer – she stands with her left foot forward on her board – is considered one of the smoothest and sleekest surfers on the planet.
His razor-sharp bends are complemented by an ability to ride the tube that has been perfected almost to perfection when stitch hopping around his home on Australia’s Gold Coast.
She also has a competitive zeal that seems at odds with a sunny ashore disposition that earned her the nickname “Happy Gilmore” early in her career.
Gilmore tried to make the most of the one-year delay to the games and the cancellation of last year’s professional tour – both caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – spending time at home to work with his support team and go on surf trips with buddies.
“I have more time now to focus on my gear, make sure my body is fine and make sure I can come to Japan feeling better than ever,” she said.
Gilmore’s main rivals at Tsurigasaki Beach in July will include fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons, the powerful American duo of four-time world champion Carissa Moore and young sensation Caroline Marks and Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb.
But for Australian surf fans, especially girls, no one really comes close.
Crowds watching a recent contest in Narrabeen, a northern Sydney suburb, are clamoring for a signature and selfie with their hero, just like every contest.
Gilmore values its role as a role model, highlighting the importance of professional surfing’s decision in 2019 to offer equal prices for men and women.
“Really fighting for things like a level playing field for women has been a huge step in the right direction for us and I love that everyone wants to come down and they want to watch women’s surfing,” she declared.
“I think I’m just doing my part to lead the way in that, that ‘hey, we’re here, we wanna show and we love what we’re doing.’
“And we want to show that all of these other young women chasing their dreams in sport, no matter what sport, keep pushing and you will get there.”
“You will be on this world stage and you will earn what you rightly deserve.”
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