Nearly 150 athletes from 22 countries are set to compete at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Para Surfing Championships, due to open in La Jolla in California tomorrow, surpassing the record of 120 that was set in 2018.
The athlete participation has nearly doubled since the inaugural edition in 2015.
As the discipline of Para-surfing continues to evolve, the ISA has updated the classification divisions in which the athletes compete in order to create the most level playing field.
Athletes will be grouped into one of eight classifications for this five-day Championships depending on their particular physical conditions.
Each classification will crown men’s and women’s world champions at La Jolla Shores.
"With surfing set to make its Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020, the ISA believes that high performance and youthful values of Para-surfing also merit inclusion on the world's greatest Para-sporting stage," a statement from the world governing body reads.
"The ISA has lobbied for the sport's inclusion in the Paralympics and most recently applied for inclusion in the Santiago 2023 Para Pan Am Games."
This year, AmpSurf joins the World Para Surfing Championships as the title partner for the first time, bringing their expertise in providing adaptive surfing therapy programmes to veterans, adults, and children.
"The ISA would like to thank the presenting sponsors, Foundation for Global Sports Development and the City of San Diego, as well as event supporters that make the World Championship possible," the statement added.
In 2018, the United States took the overall team gold medal for the first time in the event's history, breaking a two-year run from Brazil.
The defending individual gold medallists competing in 2020 are scheduled to be Denmark’s Bruno Hansen, Hawaii’s Ann Yoshida, Australia’s Samantha Bloom, England’s Melissa Reid, Australia’s Matthew Formston, America's Alana Nichols, Canada’s Victoria Feige, Brazil’s Henrique Saraiva, Colombia’s Freddy Marimón and South Africa’s Antony Smyth.
Hansen is the only competitor to earn a gold medal in each of the four editions of the event.