The four qualifiers for the open women’s main event final were confirmed on day three of the World Surfing Games in Japanese city Miyazaki.
Peru’s Sofía Mulánovich, Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb and Silvana Lima, and South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag all remain unbeaten and are one heat away from the grand final medal round at the International Surfing Association's (ISA) flagship event on Kisakihama Beach.
Three rounds of single-elimination repechage rounds remain tomorrow, with two surfers prevailing to face off against the top two placing athletes of the main event final for medals.
Today’s competition saw all four continental Olympic qualification slots determined at an event that awards Tokyo 2020 entry to the top eligible man and woman from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
South Africa, Japan, Israel and New Zealand have each provisionally secured a woman’s spot at Tokyo 2020.
As the last remaining surfer from Africa, Buitendag has claimed a Tokyo 2020 qualification place for South Africa.
Japan’s Shino Matsuda and New Zealand’s Ella Williams both bowed out of the event in the repechage rounds, but have earned continental qualification slots for their countries as the highest-finishing surfers from Asia and Oceania, respectively.
After Spain and the Netherlands lost their last remaining surfers, Leticia Caneles and Eveline Hooft, in repechage round seven, Israel’s Anat Lelior became the last European standing in the event, assuring her nation representation at Tokyo 2020.
Given that the 2020 World Surfing Games take priority over the 2019 edition in the Olympic qualification hierarchy, each continental spot will not be confirmed until the qualification process concludes at the end of May next year.
With the limit of two athletes per nation at Tokyo 2020, the only scenario in which Buitendag, Matsuda, Williams and Lelior would not qualify is if two compatriots of the same gender qualify ahead of them at next year’s World Surfing Games.
Spain’s Nadia Erostarbe was the standout performer on the third day of competition before falling in round seven.
She earned the highest heat total with 16.30 points in repechage round two and impressively lasted through four more rounds.
Carissa Moore and Courtney Conlogue of the United States bounced back strongly.
Both have advanced to repechage round eight, a two-heat round that features top stars such as Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons and Nikki Van Dijk, and Americans Caroline Marks and Costa Rica’s Brisa Hennessy.
"It’s a nice feeling to be part of that team vibe," Gilmore said.
"There is that camaraderie between everyone and we are supporting each other.
"It’s about working as a team instead of surfing for yourself.
"Sometimes it feels like more pressure, but it’s a nice feeling.
"I’ve never surfed in the ISA World Surfing Games, only the junior champs, so it’s a great taste of what the Olympics will be like."