After a heated week of typhoon-fueled competition at the 2018 UR ISA World Surfing Games in Tahara, Japan, Santiago Muniz has claimed the men's gold medal.
"It's amazing to represent my country. I can feel the energy coming from my team. It's a beautiful feeling!" said Muñiz afterwards.
Facing stiff resistance in the final from Japan's Kanoa Igarashi (currently rated 9th on the WSL Championship Tour) and Shun Murakami, as well as Peruvian Lucca Mesinas, Muñiz was able to hold on for the impressive win. It's the Argentinian's second ISA gold, his first coming in 2011 in Panama.
"This has given me even more motivation to get to Tokyo 2020," continued Muñiz. "I am excited for the opportunity to qualify, but I got to take it step by step."
"Japan is in a great spot going into finals day tomorrow. I'll do whatever it takes to help the team get a gold medal," added Igarashi on Instagram leading up to the final day.
Muñiz may not have qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games, but for the effort he has guaranteed himself a place in the 2019 Pan Am Games. It's a significant accomplishment as one male and one female surfer from the Pan Am Games will be awarded a qualification position in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
On the women's side, up-and-coming American surfers Summer Macedo, Zoe McDougall and 12-year-old Caitlin Simmers charged through their respective early-round heats, putting Team USA in the lead for the coveted team gold medal. With one day of competition left, the Australian contingent is only a only 430 points behind them and still have their heavy hitters in the lineup.
"The girls are surfing so strongly and I just love putting on the jersey. You go out there and you compete for your country. I just can't wait for another round," said Fitzgibbons.
Any one of them could take the gold and add even more intrigue to the developing race to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Final Men's Results:
Gold: Santiago Muñiz (ARG)
Silver: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN)
Bronze: Lucca Mesinas (PER)
Copper: Shun Murakami (JPN)
September 20 Schedule (Japan Standard Time):
8:00am-9:00am: Aloha Cup Semifinal 1 (FRA, MEX, JPN, CRC)
9:00am-10:00am: Aloha Cup Semifinal 2 (POR, ESP, PER, USA)
10:00am-11:00am: Aloha Cup Final