Stephanie Gilmore outduels Carissa Moore for record world surfing title

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Australian Stephanie Gilmore beat Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore of Hawaii to win a record-breaking eighth world surfing title at the World Surf League Finals in San Clemente, California.

Gilmore, a 34-year-old who was stunned in the quarterfinals of surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo, rebounded to break her tie with retired countrywoman Layne Beachley for the most women’s world titles. Only American Kelly Slater, with 11, has more among men and women.

While Moore had a bye into the title match as the top-ranked surfer this season, the fifth-seeded Gilmore had to defeat the second-through-fourth seeds on Thursday just to get to Moore: Brisa Hennessy of Costa Rica, Tatiana Weston-Webb of Brazil and Johanne Defay of France.

Gilmore then swept the five-time world champ Moore in the best-of-three title series.

“Come from the bottom, come from fifth and win a world title, that’s freakin’ cool,” Gilmore said in an interview while still in the water. “But Carissa is the world champ to me this year. She had the best season ever.

“[Moore] really is the greatest of all time in my opinion.

“I’ve won a lot of titles in different ways, and this, to be honest, was the best win I’ve had. To come all the way from fifth and just grind it out all the way to the final.”

Brazilian Filipe Toledo won the men’s title over countryman and Olympic champion Italo Ferreira. Toledo is the third different Brazilian man to win the world title in the last three seasons.

Most of the 2024 Olympic spots will be determined by next season’s World Surf League standings. A primary storyline will be if the 50-year-old Slater competes over the full season and puts himself in position to earn one of up to three U.S. men’s Olympic spots. Slater was third in U.S. Olympic qualifying for Tokyo, where a maximum of two surfers per gender per nation qualified.

He won the season-opening Pipe Masters in February and finished the season fifth among Americans in the standings.

ON HER TURF: Gilmore reflects on world title, looks ahead to Olympics

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Gabriel Medina, surfing world champion, sets return from mental break

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Brazilian Gabriel Medina, a three-time and reigning world surfing champion, will reportedly return from a mental health break for the second half of the World Surf League season next month.

“Last year, there were heats where I was crying going to the water,” Medina said in a video interview with Brazil’s Globo, according to an Olympics.com translation. “This time [away] was good for me. It’s not a secret. It’s even interesting to talk about mental health. I had depression. I started treating myself with a psychologist. I never imagined being in this situation. It’s scary. Things stop making sense for you.”

Medina, 28, announced in January that he withdrew from the start of the WSL season indefinitely, saying he was “not in a place where I believe I can perform against the world’s best” with a need to focus on his well-being.

Days after Medina’s announcement, Brazilian media reported that he and his wife ended their marriage.

“I’m better, happy to be finding myself again,” Medina told Globo in the recent interview, according to the Olympics.com translation. “I learned a lot during this time.”

Medina, who has 10 million Instagram followers and was the first surfer to land a back flip in a contest, entered the Tokyo Games ranked No. 1 in the world and finished fourth.

He dropped his semifinal to Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi by .24 of a point and the bronze-medal heat to Australian Owen Wright by two tenths of a point. They were the two closest heats of any men’s or women’s elimination round matchup at surfing’s Olympic debut.

Fellow Brazilian Italo Ferreira took gold.

Medina’s first event of this season is expected to be in Indonesia in five weeks.

Surfing remains on the Olympic program for the 2024 Paris Games, with competition set to be in Tahiti. Qualifying procedures have not been published yet. For the Tokyo Games, the majority of surfers qualified via WSL season standings the year before the Olympics.

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LA 2028 Olympics: Skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing in; boxing, weightlifting, modern pentathlon out (for now)

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Skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing, which made their Olympic debuts in Tokyo, are slated to remain on the program through the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

The IOC Executive Board announced Thursday the sports recommended for the initial program for the Los Angeles Games, to be confirmed by IOC members in February, listing 28 international federations.

For now, longtime Olympic sports boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon are not on the 2028 program, but there is a pathway for their inclusion. All three are on the 2024 Olympic program.

Boxing and weightlifting have been contested at every Olympics since 1920. Modern pentathlon has been at every Olympics since 1912.

IOC President Thomas Bach said the three sports’ international federations must address separate problem areas to the IOC Executive Board’s satisfaction. If so, they can be added to the 2028 Olympic program as early as 2023.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” Bach said.

In June 2019, the IOC stripped AIBA of its Olympic recognition following an inquiry committee report into finance, governance, refereeing and judging. An investigation later found that 2016 Olympic medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

Bach said the International Weightlifting Federation must transition “towards compliance and effective change of culture.” Specifically, it must address the sport’s historical doping problems and “ensure the integrity, robustness and full independence of its anti-doping program.”

More than 60 weightlifters who competed between the 2008 and 2012 Olympics later failed drug tests or retests of old samples, including more than 30 original medalists.

Modern pentathlon is in a very different situation. Its federation must determine a replacement for horse riding as one of its five disciplines.

“They must demonstrate a significant reduction in cost and complexity and improvements across the areas for safety, accessibility, universality, appeal for youth and general public,” Bach said.

Last month, the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) said horse riding would be removed to boost the chances of keeping modern pentathlon’s place in the Olympics. A UIPM commission recommended that riding be replaced by a to-be-determined discipline that “enhances the popularity and credibility of modern pentathlon, while preserving its status as the ultimate physical and mental sporting challenge.”

Separately, the sport of equestrian’s place in the Olympics is not in danger.

LA 2028 can also propose adding sports solely for its edition of the Games. That’s how skateboarding, surfing and sport climbing made it to the Olympics for the first time in Tokyo, and now all three are slated to be held at three consecutive Olympics.

Baseball and softball, which were added for Tokyo at the organizers’ request after being voted out of the Olympics after 2008, will not be on the 2024 Paris program but are hoping to return for LA 2028.

“As we look at additional sport recommendations, we will continue to focus on sports that are relevant to Los Angeles, provide an incredible fan experience and contribute to the success of the Games,” LA 2028 chair Casey Wasserman said in a press release. “We want to build on tradition, while progressing the Olympic Games forward.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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