Japan’s first female surfer joined the Aussie leg of the World Surfing League, and she dreams to beat our stars at the Olympics.
Nothing was going to stop this week’s Margaret River Pro from going ahead, so with Perth in lockdown the world’s best surfers were loaded on to a charter flight from Sydney directly to Busselton, three hours south of Perth in preparation for the event.
Aussie stars Stephanie Gilmore and Sally Fitzgibbons, as well as women’s No. 1 Carissa Moore, men’s world No. 1 Gabriel Medina and world champion Italo Ferreira, all arrived in Western Australia as planned.
From spine chillingly dangerous through to out and out madness, Margs – as it is affectionately called – is the only event on the World Surf League Championship Tour that has the potential to match the power and size of Hawaii.
The surf at Margs can quadruple overhead making the third event of the Australian leg a favourite of competitors and among the heavyweights of international surfing including 20-year-old Amuro Tsuzuki – Japan’s first female surfer on the WSL in 20 years.
Amuro secured her ticket into the Australian leg of the WSL after American Lakey Petersen was ruled out with a lower back injury.
Peterson, a perennial World Title contender, said she was withdrawing to focus on recovery for the second half of the 2021 season.
And so Amuro, who had jumped on a charter flight to Australia as a potential injury replacement and sat out the mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine bubble, found her window of opportunity.
Speaking to ripcurl.com recently, Amuro said things “definitely have changed for me at home”.
“There is a lot of news and noise around the fact that I’m the first Japanese female to qualify, especially because of the Olympics.
“But it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t affect me – I am just very happy.”
Surfing is one of five additional sports at this year’s Olympics and it will make its debut at Tsurigasaki Beach, roughly 100km away from the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
The event will involve 20 male and 20 female athletes competing in three rounds, and three finals comprising 30-minute heats.
Amuro, who is representing Japan at the Games, said the WSL tour and her time in Australia will provide valuable experience particularly given last year’s interrupted scheduling courtesy of the pandemic.
Amuro nominated Aussie Tyler Wright as someone she admired.
“I really look up to Tyler, and always have. She has her own independent style and she has a really strong stance,” Amuro said.
“People have told me that because of my body build I remind them of her. It will be an honour to surf alongside her on the Tour.
“Now that I’ve qualified for the World Tour, my biggest dream is to be a World Champion.
“It has always been by dream, and I will do everything that I can to be the first Japanese female to win a World Title.”
Or perhaps even an Olympic medal.
After a 2020 competition drought in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 season is unlike any year before.
New locations, a new schedule, and an Olympic Games debut in the mix, this season will be eventful.
Olympic bound American Kolohe Andino told the Olympic Channel: “I’m excited to just get back in the jersey and compete.”
“I’ve been doing it since I was 10 years old, so it feels natural to me. I’m really looking forward to the Olympics and getting to experience that for the first time. I think a lot of the world is looking forward to that.
“I think it’s going to be a really special year where sports are able to bring people together.’’
After Margs, the WSL heads to Rottnest Island from May 16.
These contests are crucial because of serious doubts about the rest of the year’s schedule. Mexico and Brazil are meant to be hosting two of the last four events, but both nations have been ravaged by COVID-19.
The world rankings may go relatively unchanged before the top five for men and women go to California’s Lower Trestles for the WSL Finals in September.
In an already packed calendar, there is also the ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador.
All 28 surfers who have already qualified for Tokyo 2020 must attend to be eligible for the Games and the 12 remaining Olympic spots will be awarded here.
With it’s potential for huge surf and slapping reefs don’t miss the Margaret River Pro, every session live on Kayo Freebies and Foxtel.