American surfer Carissa Moore made history Tuesday by becoming the first woman to win a gold medal in surfing at an Olympics Games.
Moore, the lone ethnic Hawaiian on the U.S. Olympic roster and a former child prodigy who grew up to be the youngest world champion surfer, beat Bianca Buitendag of South Africa with a score of 14.93 to 8.46. The 17th-ranked Buitendag won a silver, after pulling off upset after upset to deliver some of the contest’s biggest moments in her path to the Olympic podium.
Surfing is one of the sports to feature for the first time at an Olympic Games, alongside karate and skateboarding.
Each wave a surfer rides is evaluated by a panel of five judges on a scale of 0.1 to 10.0. The highest and the lowest of the five scores are discarded. The surfer’s score is the average of the three remaining marks. Each surfer’s two best scoring waves are added together to determine their heat total, out of a possible 20 points.
Earlier in the men's draw, Brazilian Italo Ferreira won an historic gold at the Tsurigasaki Beach, about 60 miles from Tokyo, overcoming the early adversity of breaking his board on his first wave to defeat Japan's Kanoa Igarashi.
The finals were moved from Wednesday due to an offshore tropical storm which has deluged the Tokyo region in rain — competitors may have benefited from bigger waves than usual as a result of the storm.
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Ferreira, who is the reigning champion of the World Surf League, posted a 7.77 and a 7.37 for a combined 15.14, while Igarashi struggled to keep up. The silver medalist counted a 3.83 and a 2.77, combining for a 6.60. Ferreira began paddling back to the shore with over a minute left as Igarashi was too far behind to best his score. The Brazilian was greeted at the beach by teammates who lifted him on their shoulders, carrying on a tradition that the winner's feet should not touch the sand.
In the bronze medal match, Australian surfer Owen Wright edged out Brazil's Gabriel Medina. Wright, who sustained a brain injury on a wipeout in 2015 and had to relearn how to surf, celebrated the win enthusiastically on the beach.
Wright, 31, scored a 6.50 on his first wave and 5.47 on his fourth, combining for a match score of 11.97. Medina scored a 5.43 on his third wave and a 5.77 on his eighth and final wave, combining for an 11.77.
American Kolohe Andino was eliminated by Igarashi in the quarterfinals Monday.
American Caroline Marks was upset by Japan's Amuro Tsuzuki in the women's bronze medal match, 6.80 to 4.26. Marks, after blazing through the first few rounds with sky-high scores, topped out at a 2.33 on her first wave.