Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams confirmed as New Zealand's first Olympic surfers

The duo secured their Tokyo 2020 place based on results at the 2019 World Games; Stairmand and Williams will make their bow in one of the newest sports on the Olympic programme in 2021.

Picture by 2019 Getty Images

Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams have been selected to become New Zealand’s first Olympic surfers.

The duo, who come from Whangamata and Raglan – two of the most popular surfing regions in the country – qualified for Tokyo 2020 with their strong performances at the 2019 World Games.

With the pandemic causing the cancellation of the ISA world's in 2020, it meant results from the 2019 event retained their importance.

Stairmand, 31, is an eight-time New Zealand surfing champion and said qualifying for the Olympics was a "dream come true".

"Ever since surfing was named as a sport in the Olympics I put it at the top of my goals list," he said. "I’d like to thank everyone who has always backed me and believed in me. Anything is possible if you work hard."

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Picture by 2020 Getty Images

Williams, the only New Zealand surfer to clinch the women’s world junior championship, was taught to surf by her parents when she was aged four and is now set to become the country’s first female Olympic surfer.

Despite pressure from Paige Hareb (11th) and Saffi Vette (29th) at this year's ISA world's event in Ecuador, Williams managed to secure her place in the team.

She described her selection as "so special".

"I wouldn’t be where I am today without my family,” the 26-year-old explained. “I’m super grateful to have them by my side every step of the way."

Surfing will make its Olympic debut at Tsurigasaki Beach from July 25 (waves permitting), one of six sports to make its bow this summer, along with softball, baseball, karate, skateboarding and sport climbing.