Mick Fanning already has his hand up to coach when surfing makes its Olympic debut in 2020 after the sport was added to the Tokyo program, along with skateboarding, sports climbing, karate, baseball and softball.
The three-time world champion was quick to announce his intentions to be a part of the Australian team. “In four years time I don’t think I will be at the top of my game so I would be honoured to be a coach or mentor,” he said.
Australians have won 14 of the past 18 women’s world surfing championships and two of the past four in the men’s category. Matt Wilkinson and Tyler Wright lead the respective world championships this year, while Isabella Nicholls, Nikki van Dijk and Jack Freestone have all recently won junior world championships.
It means Fanning can only see success for Australia. “If you have a look at the rookies that are on board at the moment like Jack Freestone, Stu Kennedy, Davey Cathels and Ryan Callinan; those guys along with your Matt Wilkinsons have to be making a strong case for selection,” he said.
“Stephanie Gilmore, Sally Fitzgibbons and Tyler Wright have been leading the way but we have a really good depth of field for the women’s team as well.”
While a number of golf and tennis stars have elected to concentrate on their world tours instead of going to Rio, Australia’s leading surfers seem determined to make the 2020 Games a priority.
“It’s been my dream to be an Olympian since I was eight years old,” Fitzgibbons said. “To think I now have the chance to work towards my goal is beyond exciting. We have such a rich surf history within our country and the Olympic dream is a huge incentive for all our Australian surfers to aim for over the next four years.”
Fitzgibbons’ enthusiasm was echoed by Wright. “In Australia it’s a thing we grow up watching – we watch all of it,” the world No1 said. “It would be kind of dreamy if we got into the Olympics. We would have a solid team and I feel like we would flog everyone, so it would be amazing.”
Source: Australian Associated Press