Brazil's Italo Ferreira and USA's Carissa Moore crowned Olympic surf champions

Ferreira recovered from breaking his board on the first wave to beat Japan's Kanoa Igarashi in the final, while Moore out-classed South African outsider Briana Buitendag to secure victory in the women's event

Brazil's Italo Ferreira and American Carissa Moore became the first Olympic surfing champions on Tuesday, overcoming challenging conditions to prevail over their rivals at the Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach.

Ferreira recovered from breaking his board on the first wave to beat Japan's Kanoa Igarashi in the final, while Moore out-classed South African outsider Briana Buitendag to secure victory in the women's event.

Stringing together combinations of strong turns in the powerful, overhead waves, Brazilian Ferreira built a lead that was always out of Igarashi's reach.

Australia's Owen Wright took the men's bronze after a tense battle with world No 1 Gabriel Medina, edging out the Brazilian by two-tenths of a point, while Japan's Amuro Tsuzuki beat 19-year-old American Caroline Marks to take the bronze in the women's competition.

Knowing he had done enough to win, Ferreira began surfing his way in to the shore with a minute to go, greeting the final horn with his arms raised to the heavens before being carried shoulder-high from the water by his team mates.

"I think it's one of the best days of my life, for sure. For me that was a long day and it was a dream come true. The last couple of months I've been training a lot, just to live in this moment," an emotional Ferreira told reporters.

Buitendag had beaten seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore and 19-year-old American prodigy Caroline Marks to get to the final, but Moore proved too much in waves that had size and power but were almost impossible to predict.

The 28-year-old nailed two excellent waves just past the mid-point of the heat and though Buitendag battled to the end, there was little she could do to close the gap and Moore ripped off a final victory wave before greeting the South African at the water's edge.

"This isn't just about this gold medal moment, it's about surfing, using the platform to share some positivity and love, all that kind of stuff," Moore said.

"I hope it has a positive impact. The ocean has changed my life and I can't imagine my life without it, I'll be surfing until I'm in the ground," she added.

"Riding the wave makes you feel free, it makes you feel present, it makes you feel more in love with yourself and the ocean and the environment."

From the knee-high ripples of Sunday's opening rounds to Tuesday's roiling seas, it was a fitting way to crown surfing's Olympic debut, its most dynamic competitor rewarded for his daring with a place in the history books.

Updated: July 27th 2021, 9:32 AM
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