By: Ellen Zoe Golden Photos by: WSL
For the first-time ever, the Central American Sports Games will include surfing in its curriculum. That’s because this competition is an Olympic-sanctioned event, and a precursor to the debut of surfing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. On the Costa Rican front, our National Olympic Committee (NOC) has identified the Ticos likely to be the in those Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The selection of athletes, which was made along with Costa Rica’s surf coach Jim Hogan, will head to the Central American Sports Games in Managua, Nicaragua on December 2-17 with the surfing portion December 12-15 at Playa Maderas in San Juan del Sur, Rivas. What’s also notable is the fact that several of our country’s star surfers who do World Surf League (WSL) professional contests around the globe, are committing their time to this first Olympic event.
They are joining 32 other countries for a total of 400 athletes in Nicaragua for the test. “We will have the same commitment that we had at world championships this year in Nicaragua. We want to bring out the best from all our national surfers, and give the country as many golds as possible,” said Jim Hogan.
The Central American Sports Games presents 33 different sports with various countries participating. In the surfing category, only Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua will compete. The next stop in the Olympics-sanctioned events is in 2019 for the Pan-American Games in Lima, Peru.
Nicaragua will be the last time in 2017 that Costa Rica will be represented as a country with a surf team. This was a very successful year in the International Surf Association (ISA) World Championships, as Juniors and veterans placed in the Top 10 at their respective events, and earned three more medals to the country’s cache.
A couple of really quick notes. Serena Nava, the 2016 national Girls champion, was in Barbados last month for Live Like Zander Junior Pro in Soup Bowl Barbados. Although she was registered as a surfer from the US, Nava lives in Costa Rica and has for years. In Round 1, she faced Samantha Sibley, a known pro from the US, along with Costa Rica’s own Eva Woodland.
Nava came in 2nd behind Sibley, and passed to the Quarterfinals. There, she says she “froze” when she became a little uncertain about priority. According to her father John, who was with Serena in Barbados, “She had priority and waited too long. Then when the wave she needed came the girl under priority took the wave and Serena gave it up. She won’t do that again.”
Costa Rica’s quadruple threat—Noe Mar McGonagle, Carlos Muñoz, Anthony Fillingim and Tomas King—got a healthy work out in the invitation-only contests in Hawaii in these months. Since all four guys were in the top 100 of the QS rankings, they were able to attend these prime events in Hawaii. Fillingim’s start was shaky in the first contes, the Vans Presents the HIC Pro, only earning a low-scoring wave and an interference in Round 1 to fall to the bottom at 4th. King had made a noble effort in his firstever HIC Pro and Hawaiian Pro, having popped out in 4th place during the 2nd round of the former, and in Round 1 of the latter. Still, he had a remarking year on the QS, and should be very proud of his surfing skills on the international circuit. Meanwhile, in the HIC Pro, McGonagle took his seeded Round 3 heat in 1st place, and Muñoz passed in 2nd place in the same starting Round for him in the contest. Cali went on to win 1st in Round 4 then had a tough heat in the quarterfinals rendering him to 4th place, while Noe Mar couldn’t find the waves and ended his own run here in 4th place in the next Round.
The Hawaiian Pro is filled with some of the best surfers in the world. Both McGonagle and Muñoz had a fantastic start in the Round x with 96 surfers, both scoring high enough to pass onward. Yet, it’s hard to say whether Day 3’s extremely difficult surf conditions— windblown onshore, rapid river current and overhead waves—or the stacked heats troubled them more in Round 3. What an experience for Noe Mar to face Jordy Smith, Joshua Moniz and Adam Melling, one that might only have generated him a 4th place, but gave him lots of experience. Cali had Michael Bourez and Josh Kerr in his heat, and while he bested Michael Dunphy, his 3rd place was not enough to move forward.
The team to the Central American Sports Games
Noe Mar McGonagle
Stand-Up Paddle (Racing)
Stand-Up Paddle (Racing) Femenino