Breaking… SA’s Bianca in Semi-finals Surfing at Tokyo 2020

By Bev Mortimer

South Africa’s woman surfer,  Bianca Buitendag from Victoria Bay, is through to the Semi-Finals in the Japan Olympics 2020  following her second win in this prestigious world event by defeating Portugal’s Yolanda Hopkins earlier this morning (Japanese time).

Photo: Credit Bev Mortimer of Bianca Buitendag and Sally Fitzgibbons from Australia at the JBay Corona 2019 surfing event in Jeffreys Bay.

She is set to compete against a top favourite, Caroline Marks from the US, at 1 pm today (13h), (7 am this morning, South African time) on ‘Finals’ day for Olympic Surfing at Tsurigasaki Beach in Japan. Marks and Owen Wright from Australia were the highest total scorers from the men and women’s surfing competition yesterday in Japan – Wright: 15.00 and Marks:15.33).

The Olympics Surfing event this morning started off with 8 men and 8 women in the running to become the historic first Olympic Surfing Champions at Tokyo 2020.

Bianca stunned the surfing world yesterday, 26 July, by defeating Gold Medal favourite, Stephanie Gilmore from Australia and then beating Portugal’s Yolanda Hopkins this morning, 27 July, at the debut Olympics Surfing event in Japan Olympics 2020.

Bianca ousted seven-time World Surfing League champion Gilmore in round three of the competition yesterday, 26 July. By her grit and determination to win Gold, she harnessed the power of sport and took down Australian legend, Gilmore.  The 27 year-old Bianca put her powerful backhand surfing on display for a global audience to experience the debut of Olympic Surfing.

“I was in the First Heat of the day going against the 7-time World Champ, so I had nothing to lose,” Bianca said yesterday, 26 July, after her surprise win against Gilmore. “I am the underdog with the 17th seed in the Women’s event. It’s a comfortable spot to be in. It takes away all the nerves and pressure.”

“Things went my way. A lot of things had to align for this victory. I just decided to control the things I can — good wave selection.

Bianca discussed how she aims to leverage the Olympic platform to bring positivity to South Africa during times of turmoil.

 “We’ve had quite a rough few weeks at home with civil unrest and political situations. I just want to bring some good news home. Sport has the power to do that. I won’t be able to stop the situation with my personal power, but I feel like with this platform I have the opportunity to shine some light during these dark times in South Africa.”

Disappointed in her results, but optimistic for more Olympic opportunities in the future, Gilmore chimed in after her loss.

“Even though you have an opponent in the line-up, you have a third opponent and that is the ocean,” said Gilmore. “The thing with surfing is that you can put in all of the hard work, practice, training—you can do everything perfectly but still show up on the day and the ocean doesn’t give you the waves.”