Surfing world champions will be crowned in a different format

Italo Ferreira
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World champions in surfing will start being crowned in a one-day, surf-off format in 2021, a change from the season-long title race of the Championship Tour.

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan cited last year’s men’s title race that came down to the last heat of the eight-month, 11-contest season at the Billabong Pipe Masters on Oahu’s North Shore in December.

Italo Ferreira prevailed over Gabriel Medina in a battle of Brazilians, who are medal favorites for the sport’s Olympic debut next year.

“We’re very fortunate that all of the elements aligned for it to happen, but as we know, it’s not every year that we get a world championship heat,” Logan said, noting discussions on the change began before the coronavirus pandemic. “Starting next year, the world champions will be determined in a single day of thrilling competition, the ultimate finals day and the last day of the Championship Tour season with the top men and the top women battling for their respective titles in a new, surf-off format.”

Logan said the surfer ranked No. 1 through the Championship Tour regular season will have “a distinct advantage” going into the final surf-off day. More details will be announced in July. How the new format will affect Olympic qualifying for Paris 2024, when surfing will be held in Tahiti, is unknown.

This season, all World Surf League contests through June have been postponed due to the coronavirus. The next status update will come June 1.

“Where and when we will run this year is still very much an open question,” Logan said.

Most of the Olympic surfing field is set, led by the top 10 men and top eight women from the 2019 season standings, maximum two per country. The U.S. qualifiers were world champion Carissa Moore and runner-up Caroline Marks and Kolohe Andino and John John Florence, who beat out Kelly Slater.

MORE: Japan’s top golfer finds ties to Tokyo Olympics beyond the obvious

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Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

Olympic Council of Asia
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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”