Kelly Slater plots retirement, but Olympic question remains

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Kelly Slater, an 11-time world champion surfer, plans to retire from the sport’s top-level series next year, but he could still qualify for surfing’s Olympic debut in 2020.

“My basic plan is to get myself really healthy, again, get ready for April next year, and next year be my last year on [the World Surf League] tour and just be done with it,” Slater said in a video posted Monday.

The top two Americans per gender from the 2019 World Surf League standings qualify for the Olympics. So Slater could retire from the WSL after next season but still have a spot in Tokyo if he wants it.

In April, the 46-year-old Slater said he was “50-50” on whether he planned to make a 2020 Olympic run. “If I make the team, I’ll compete,” he said then.

A representative for Slater has not responded to a request for clarification on Slater’s Olympic stance.

Slater dropped to the third-ranked American in 2016 and missed four of 11 events last season after breaking his foot. His best finish in the other seven events was a fifth. He competed this week for the first time since December.

The U.S. boasts the two-time reigning world champion — 25-year-old John John Florence of Hawaii — but no other men from last season’s top six or this season’s top 11.

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