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John Florence - nicknamed “John John” - is an Hawaiian-born surfer competing for Team USA at Tokyo 2020, in 2021.

Born opposite one of the most famous surfing breaks in the world, Pipeline, Florence was first exposed to the sport by his mother, Alex, who herself is a surfer. She introduced her eldest son and his two brothers to the ocean as soon as they could walk.

Catching waves in no time, Florence started off with amateur competitions picking up strings of awards for his efforts. He stepped up a gear when, age 13 he competed in the Triple Crown of Surfing becoming the youngest surfer ever to do so.

The big time came for the surfer in 2011 when he made it on to the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) – surfing’s most elite competition. After coming achingly close to the world championship title in 2013, Florence finally achieved the feat in 2016 before then repeating it in 2017, becoming one of five men ever to go back-to-back in the sport.

For such a big name on the surfing scene (see his 1.4 million Instagram followers) Florence’s journey to Tokyo was as choppy and unpredictable as the waves he dominates on the board.

It started in 2018 when the American tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Bali while surfing post-competition. Florence did what he was supposed to and rehabbed his knee in time for the 2019 season. After a scintillating start to the CT, including a third-place finish followed by then two consecutive first place finishes, Florence did the unimaginable and tore his ACL again. This time he needed surgery.

Sitting back watching other surfers compete for the world championship title and the Olympic berths available, Florence nearly forgot about the tour. He travelled, went sailing – anything to recover. As the season carried on, he realised that due to the big points lead he had accumulated at the start of the CT pre-injury, he still remained in the running for a place on Team USA’s roster. So, in December he re-entered the fray.

It came down to a two-horse race with fellow countryman and surfing veteran Kelly Slater – a man who once watched Florence growing up on the shores of Oahu. Fortunately for a recovering Florence he was able to stave off the late attack from Slater and clinch the final place on the plane to Tokyo.

While Florence has provisionally qualified for the Games, the 28-year-old has been forced to have more surgery on his knee just ahead of his debut at the Olympics. The eyes of the world be watching him closely to see how well he has recovered and to see just what he can do on the biggest stage of them all.