Australia won their third consecutive ISA World Surfing Games Team Championship and gold medals today in Costa de Caparica, Portugal. This was their fourth out of the seven editions in the history of the event. It was a sunny, beautiful day at Marcelino beach, with waves improving from yesterday and reaching three feet with good conditions.
Team Australia at the 2008 ISA World Surfing Games.
Sally Fitzgibbons (Gold) in Open Women; Dayyan Neve (Bronze), Heath Joske (Silver) and Kai Otton (Copper) in Open Men; Harley Ingleby (Silver) in Longboard; and Lilly Pollard (Copper) in Bodyboard Women are all members of the Aussie team that made it into their respective finals. They added important points towards the final Team Standings that gave Australia a strong win of almost 3,000 points ahead of Team USA who came in second and won silver medals.
The final team standings are as follows:
Gold: Australia – 17,238 pts.
Silver: USA – 14,284 pts.
Bronze: Brazil – 12,610 pts.
Copper: France – 11,819 pts.
The CEO of Surfing Australia, Mark Lane explained his point of view on Australia's great record in the Games. "I think the secret and one of our team goals is all about having fun while we're here, to be laughing all the time. And it's also in the Australian culture that we're never giving up. We're always encouraging people to never give up and to keep surfing well".
"It's a great feeling to win again. It's really a hard week to watch and go through every heat. You've got to deal with disappointments. You feel everything and when you come out of this and win, it just feels great."
Puerto Ricans win their first ever Gold Medal
Natasha Sagardia from Puerto Rico entered the surfing history books, becoming the first ever Puerto Rican to win a Gold Medal in the ISA World Surfing Games. Sagardia led her heat from the beginning until the end. A combined score of 13.96 gave her the win.
Sagardia was received and carried in the arms of her teammates and cried all the way through the beach. "I can't stop crying! I'm super excited. I don't know if this is real! This is crazy, I was just thinking, please God let me get the right waves and surf like I know. This is a dream come true. I've been working so hard to be here, I can't even believe it."
Bourroux (FRA) placed second, Pires (CRC) third and Pollard (AUS) fourth.
Sally Fitzgibbons enter the history books
At 17, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) has made it into the history books by becoming Gold Medalist in both the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship and the ISA World Surfing Games in the same year. No one has ever achieved this before.
Sally started slow in her final heat against Marie Dejean (FRA), Camila Cassia (BRA) and Laureen Sweeney (USA). She waited 12 minutes for a good wave. When it came, she scored an 8.90 then an 8.20 soon afterwards to take the lead and become the ISA World Champion and gold medalist.
"I was lucky to get some waves. Conditions were really difficult and all the girls were surfing really well. This is an amazing contest with an amazing atmosphere. I am definitely the happiest woman on earth. I just couldn't imagine a better year", said the stoked Aussie after her final heat.
Dejean placed second, Cassia third and Sweeney fourth.
Moir becomes back to back gold medallist
Matthew Moir (ZAF) won for the second time in a row the Gold Medal in the Longboard division of the Games. He not only won the final of both events, he actually won every heat he entered at Huntington Beach 2006 and at Costa de Caparica in 2008. He´s now looking forward to match Marcelo Freitas record as a three-time consecutive Longboard winner.
Moir posted an almost perfect 18.12 combined score (9.22 and 8.90) to leave Harley Ingleby (AUS) in a close second, Taylor Jensen (USA) in third and Phil Rajzman (BRA) in fourth.
"I'm so, so stoked. I never thought I would have the chance to win two years in a row. Marcelo Freitas won it three years in a row and I did it two times so I'm pretty happy for that. I had a great support from my teammates at the beach. That was amazing, I just can't believe it." Said the South African.
Hobgood Wins Against Three Aussies
Team USA surfer and ASP World Tour World Champion in 2001, CJ Hobgood had a great day today. It started with him falling to the repercharge final, but it ended amazingly with a Gold medal around his neck.
CJ Hobgood. Photo: AJ Neste/Surfing America
The Open Mens final included three World Tour surfers but started with the great Aussie talent, Heath Joske, posting a solid 8.40 and taking the lead for the first ten minutes. But the US surfer maintained calm and midway through the heat, he took the lead after riding a nice right and scoring an 8.60 that was backed up with a 7.20.
With three minutes to go and Joske needing a 7.41, CJ started using tactics and didn't let the Aussie catch a wave. When the horn sounded, he was all smiles and said: "It feels so good right now. I had to compete against three Aussies that I have a great respect for. It was a really good final with me and Joske going back and forth. And coming towards the end, I didn't know if I should sit on him or not. But I knew that if he would've caught a wave and got the score, an opportunity that I might not have again would've been lost. It's a great feeling. These opportunities don't come back too often so to take advantage of it. It is amazing!"
After he was awarded the Gold Medal, CJ thanked International Surfing Association President, Fernando Aguerre "I would like to thank Fernando for his tireless job promoting surfing and for organizing the Games. This is a great and unique event."
Dayyan Neve placed third and Kai Otton fourth.
An emotional Closing Ceremony took place on the beach today in front of a great crowd of locals and the Games' participants from 29 nations. The finalists received their medals and anthems of the winning countries were sung.
ISA President Fernando Aguerre thanked the Authorities of the hosting city, Almada; the organizer, Natural Factor; the ISA Contest Officials and all the teams that travelled from all over the world to be part of the competition.
"This is a show of surfing but is, most importantly, a show of brotherhood between the nations of the world. In the last heat of today for the Open Mens division, we saw one US surfer and three Australians. Their surfing in that heat symbolized the World Surfing Games and the ISA spirit. It could've been very difficult for one guy surfing against three of the same nation, but they all surfed together with good sportsmanship," Aguerre said.
The Ceremony was closed with ISA President welcoming the upcoming Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship 2009 that will be held in March in Ecuador and the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games 2009 to take place in August in Costa Rica.
Gold: Australia – 17.238 pts.
Silver: USA – 14.284 pts.
Bronze: Brazil – 12.610 pts.
Copper: France – 11.819 pts.
Gold: CJ Hobgood (USA)
Silver: Heath Joske (AUS)
Bronze: Dayyan Neve (AUS)
Copper: Kai Otton (AUS)
Gold: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
Silver: Marie Dejean (FRA)
Bronze: Camila Cassia (BRA)
Copper: Lauren Sweeney (USA)
Gold: Marcus Lima (BRA)
Silver: Manuel Centeno (POR)
Bronze: Hugo Pinheiro (POR)
Copper: David Lee (ZAF)
Gold: Natasha Sagardia (PRI)
Silver: Heloise Bourroux (FRA)
Bronze: Rita Pires (POR)
Copper: Lilly Pollard (AUS)
Gold: Matthew Moir (ZAF)
Silver: Harley Ingleby (AUS)
Bronze: Taylor Jensen (USA)
Copper: Phil Rajzman (BRA)
Bronze: Costa Rica
Copper: South Africa