Kelly Slater may never compete in an Olympics, but he would welcome surfing’s inclusion in the Olympic program.
Slater, 42, is an 11-time world champion and regarded as one of the greatest athletes ever across all sports. Surfing has never been part of the Olympics (though something called “surf lifesaving” was reportedly a demonstration sport in 1900).
Surfing is, however, one of many non-Olympic sports “recognized” by the International Olympic Committee. You may recall American football joining that list last year.
The earliest a sport could be added to the Summer Olympics would be for 2024. Slater will be 52 years old.
The final vote for 2024 sports will come in 2017. Surfing has not been close to joining the Olympics in recent IOC sessions, but Slater has an idea that could help his sport’s cause.
“If we get the right wave pool technology, that is probably the go-to for having surfing at the Olympics,” he told the Daily Telegraph in Australia. “Nothing replaces nature but is could be a good supplement.”
Slater said surfers are divided about whether they want the sport in the Olympics, bringing to mind the snowboarding community’s views of joining the Winter Olympics 16 years ago.
The International Surfing Association president was in Sochi lobbying for his sport’s inclusion, according to the Daily Telegraph.
“We have a world tour that each year determines who is the best, but as far as the Olympics go you are surfing for your country,” said Slater, a Cocoa Beach, Fla., native. “There is national pride involved.
“It would add a completely different element to the sport, pressure and criticism and all that.
“I would probably welcome it.”