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Olympics: Off to the Races!

The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast were not only the starts of the 2019 World Title races, but also the first step towards qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

20 men and 20 women will compete in Japan for surfing's debut at the Olympics, and the world rankings at the end of the 2019 CT season will determine 18 of the 40 places at the Games (10 men and 8 women).

And because the 2019 CT sits atop the hierarchy of events in the Olympic qualification system, that means the 18 surfers atop the CT rankings will be the first chosen for Olympic selection.

It's also important to note that each competitive nation is limited to a maximum of four surfers  --  two women and two men.

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 8: Italo Ferreira of Brazil wins the 2019 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast after winning the final at Duranbah Beach on April 8, 2019 in Queensland, Australia. Italo Ferreira is on track to fly the Brazilian flag at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. WSL / Kelly Cestari

While final rankings won't be determined until the end of season, let's take a look at the post-Gold Coast leaderboard as a snapshot of how the Olympic Race is shaping up after the season's first event.

Men's Field:

The two Brazilian slots would be taken by event winner Italo Ferreira and Gabriel Medina, with Filipe Toledo, Yago Dora and Willian Cardoso next in line.

For the Team USA, Kolohe Andino's runner-up finish at D-bah would ensure his selection, with 2x World Champion John John Florence completing a very strong squad. The Round 2 loss by Kelly Slater, who has publicly stated his desire to finish his career at the Olympics, means the GOAT has a lot of catching up to do.

Kolohe Spins To Lead Team USA
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Kolohe Andino - 7.67

Wade Carmichael was Australia's only Quarterfinalist, so he gets his country's first slot, while brothers Mikey Wright and Owen Wright, who both finished 9th on the Gold Coast, will be left to fighting it out for the remaining allocation. You'd think though that down the track Julian Wilson should enter the reckoning.

Jordy Smith, currently ranked World No. 3, would be the sole South African representative.

That leaves three of the ten spots remaining.

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 8: Jordy Smith of South Africa is eliminated from the 2019 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast with an equal 3rd finish after placing second in Semi Final Heat 2 at Duranbah Beach on April 8, 2019 in Queensland, Australia. Jordy Smith laying into his signature roundhouse cutback at the Semfinal's of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. WSL / Matt Dunbar

Kanoa Igarashi, representing Japan, French Polynesia's Michel Bourez and either Jeremy Flores or Joan Duru would currently take the French spots.

While Japan is guaranteed a host nation spot -- see our Olympic Qualifying At A Glance article for more on that -- Igarashi would instead take one of the ten CT spots if his rating, as it is now, warranted selection.

While Flores and Duru both finished 17th on the Gold Coast, with surfers ranked above them ruled ineligible due to the two surfers per country per rule, one would be chosen to fly the tricolor flag in Tokyo.

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 5: Kanoa Igarashi of Japan advances to Round 4 of the 2019 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast after winning Heat 3 of Round 3 at Duranbah Beach on April 5, 2019 in Queensland, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Cestari/WSL via Getty Images) Kanoa Igarashi after advancing into Round 4 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Women's Field:

Team USA would be led by Boost Mobile Pro finalists Caroline Marks and Carissa Moore. Hawaiian Malia Manuel is next in line, although you'd expect Lakey Peterson and Courtney Conlogue, who suffered shock early round losses, to be fighting hard as the year progresses.

For the Green and Gold Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore would lead an experienced Aussie team.

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 8: Sally Fitzgibbons of Australia is eliminated from the 2019 Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast with an equal 3rd finish after placing second in Semi Final Heat 2 at Duranbah Beach on April 8, 2019 in Queensland, Australia. Fitzgibbons preparing for her Semifinal match up against Carissa Moore at the 2018 Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast. WSL / Kelly Cestari

Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb and France's Johanne Defay would be selected after their Quarterfinal finishes. The remaining two spots would be allocated to Costa Rican rookie Brisa Hennessy and Kiwi Paige Hareb. Like Flores or Duru on the men's side, they get their allocation because the higher ranked surfers from USA and Australia can't be picked.

Now it's obviously early days, but the ongoing battle for the 18 spots available for surfing's debut at the Olympic's should provide a fascinating subtext as the year progresses. We will keep you posted.

Weston-Webb; Out Of The Blocks.
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Tatiana Weston-Webb - 7.30

Eligible Olympic Surfers Based On Current Ratings:

Men's:

  • Italo Ferreira
  • Kolohe Andino
  • Jordy Smith
  • John John Florence
  • Gabriel Medina
  • Wade Carmichael
  • Owen or Mikey Wright
  • Michel Bourez
  • Kanoa Igarashi
  • Jeremy Flores or Joan Duru

Women's:

  • Caroline Marks
  • Carissa Moore
  • Sally Fitzgibbons
  • Stephanie Gilmore
  • Tatiana Weston-Webb
  • Johanne Defay
  • Brisa Hennessy
  • Paige Hareb

See our Olympic Qualifying At A Glance article for a quick look at the qualification process as a whole.

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