By Ellen Zoe Golden Photo courtesy Federación de Surf de Costa Rica
Last month, a small contingent of national surf champions completed a week of competition at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima.
This was the first time that surfing was included in this tournament and the reason was clear. Anthony Fillingim (former national Open champ) Noe Mar McGonagle (former national Open champion and world gold medal holder) Anthony Flores (national Longboard champion) and Valeria Salustri (national Womens SUP racer) all ventured to the Games that are one of the stepping stones to qualifying for the spots at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as reps of Costa Rica.
The qualifying requirements are complicated, but right now all of these surfers are in the running. In the waves of Punta Roca at the contest run with Olympic rules, the Ticos had their hands full vying for scores against some of the world’s best amateur surfers.
After a few days, and performances that rated Fillingim and McGonagle spots in the semi-finals, they both had trouble locating just the right waves to maneuver high scores in their respective heats. Relegated to repercharge, both found the same issues and ended their runs right there—no medals in site.
With Brisa Hennessy still off on the World Championship Tour (WCT) and Leilani McGonacle competing on the Qualifying Series (QS), no women participated in Peru in the Open divisions. However, Salustri ran her SUP race and placed 9th.
It doesn’t look like the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo will present SUP. For the Olympic Games, the rules committee has settled on a maximum number of surfers to compete in Tokyo. That number is four with 10 countries included in the whole competition.
The breakdown for Costa Rica is: . 1 female from the World Surfing League (WSL) rankings as of the end 2019 . 2 males from the International Surfing Association (ISA) rankings as of 2020 .
1 female from the ISA rankings as of 2020 At the moment the surfer who is closest to achieving a solid place for Costa Rica is Hennessy currently at #9 at the WCT rankings. The next ISA World Championships are going on right now in this month over in Japan.
Thes Costa Rica surf team there is: Jair Pérez Noe Mar McGonagle Carlos Muñoz Eva Woodland Leilani McGonagle Brisa Hennessy The team will once again be coached by Jim Hogan. After the completion of the Pan American Game, the ISA confirmed that quotas for the countries of the American continent will not be in dispute for this first World Cup prior to the Olympic Games and neither for the next 2020 World Cup.
This includes the mandate that the country’s WSL competitors must compete in these two contests to qualify for the Olympics due to their rankings. That’s why names like both McGonagle, Muñoz and Hennessy are included. With its team, this September test will hopefully return the Ticos to a Top 10 space in the amateur world rankings. Never before has so much been at stake for Costa Rica’s surfing reputation.