15-year-old surfer Eeli Timperi: "Age is not really important to me"

The Finnish phenom scored surprise wins over Olympians Kolohe Andino and Rio Waida at the ISA World Surfing Games.

By Scott Bregman and Ashlee Tulloch
Picture by All rights reserved. benreedphoto@gmail.com

15-year-old surfer Eeli Timperi of Finland is riding high after a surprising performance on the first day of competition at the ISA World Surfing Games. The event, which is being held in Huntington Beach, California, is a qualifier for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Saturday, Timperi had a surprising victory over veteran Kolohe Andino of the United States and talented Indonesian surfer Rio Waida, who both competed in last summer’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

“Whenever you've got a tough opponent, just surf how you normally surf, get on the best waves and just do the best that you possibly can for yourself,” the youngster said in an exclusive interview with Olympics.com. “It doesn't matter what the other people are doing. Just do whatever you can.”

That was all he needed in the opening day’s heat, where he was able to score 10.73 to win the round over Andino’s 9.87 and Waida’s 9.43.

“At the start, I feel like I had a lot of patience, which played in my favour and then I happened to get a good wave at the start, got a good section at the back, followed it up with a good hit on the inside,” recalled Timperi. “Then, at the end of the heat, I happened to get another wave that put me in the lead.”

Read more: Here is everything you need to know about the ISA World Surfing Games.

You can watch it on Olympic Channel via our live stream on Olympics.com.

The win shows the potential Timperi has. He started surfing at age 5, when he moved from Finland to California and eventually got stuck on the sport.

“I started surfing through my parents and then slowly started surfing. I was kind of on and off when I first started,” he explained. “But, then, I kind of clicked at one point, and that's when I started surfing all the time.”

Timperi isn’t intimidated by his older and more experienced competitors.

“Age is not really important to me,” he said. “You know, it just comes down to whatever you can get yourself to do, especially this event right now. You know, there's people from all different kind of countries, different ages, different kinds of people. It's really, really important and really awesome to see these different people coming together.”

He has big goals – including a chance at competing at the Olympic Games.

“That could be that could be really big for me,” Timperi said of the Games. “That's definitely one thing that I'm looking for, but, you know, it just comes down to whatever you can put yourself into and what you can work on to get there.

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