How the race for Tokyo 2020 surf qualifying looks right now

Just after the halfway stage of the WSL season, here's a rundown of the surfers in line to qualify for Tokyo 2020 and the ones who could miss out.

By Ashlee Tulloch

The World Surf League (WSL) Tour has just passed halfway and the 2019 title race is heating up.

But another race is brewing in the surfing world, the battle for qualification for the sport's Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.

At the end of the 2019 WSL Championship Tour season, the top 10 eligible men and eight women will earn places at the Games in Japan.

The other 22 places (10 men and 12 women) will be determined at the 2019 and 2020 ISA World Surfing Games, and the 2019 Pan American Games. Additionally, surfers who qualify through the WSL must compete at the World Surfing Games to meet Olympic eligibility requirements.

Only two surfers per gender can represent any one country.

We take a look at who would qualify for Tokyo 2020, as it stands right now.

Gabriel Medina to miss men's competition?

If the WSL's Olympic spots were decided today, some huge names would miss the cut.

Currently, Kolohe Andino and Hawaii's John John Florence are placed first and third in the world rankings and would qualify to represent USA.

But on 2 July, 26-year-old Florence announced on his Instagram account that he had ruptured his ACL in Brazil and would undergo knee surgery.

"I'll be pulling out of J-Bay and likely the rest of the CT season." - John John Florence

That operation was a success, but his hopes of staying in the top two Americans and making Tokyo 2020 are slim.

That leaves the door open for other American surfers with six Championship Tour events to come.

One is all-time great Kelly Slater who is currently seventh overall.

At 47 years of age, the 11-time world champion has had four top-10 finishes - including a third place in Bali - since a disappointing season-opener on the Gold Coast.

With surfers discarding their worst two results to get their final season total, he should overtake Florence in the race for the second USA place.

Florence would have been named to Team USA's 2019 ISA World Surfing Games roster originally by virtue of his rank, but has been replaced by Slater in the final line-up alongside Andino and Conner Coffin.

Slater will need to maintain his good form to claim an Olympic berth with Coffin and Seth Moniz close behind.

WSL Championship Tour men's standings (after six of 11 events; current Olympic qualifiers in bold):

  1. Kolohe Andino (USA) 33,845 points
  2. Felipe Toledo (BRA) 33,280
  3. John John Florence (USA) 32,425
  4. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 29,950
  5. Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 29,450
  6. Jordy Smith (RSA) 29,365
  7. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 26,895
  8. Kelly Slater (USA) 21,055
  9. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 20,130
  10. Julian Wilson (AUS) 18,140
  11. Michel Bourez (FRA) 17,930
  12. Owen Wright (AUS) and Conner Coffin (USA) 17,365

Jeremy Flores of France, currently in 16th, would take the 10th and final WSL Olympic berth for men.

After winning the Oi Rio Pro and finishing third at J-Bay, Brazil's Filipe Toledo is up to second overall with he and Italo Ferreira currently in possession of the two Brazilian berths.

As it stands, defending world champion Gabriel Medina would miss out on Tokyo representing a huge blow for one of the world's highest profile surfers.

Japan are guaranteed a place as host nation and it looks set to go to Kanoa Igarashi.

The 21-year-old was runner-up at last year's ISA World Surfing Games, and claimed his first WSL CT win in Bali in May.

South Africa's golden boy Jordy Smith is on track for Tokyo, sitting comfortably in sixth overall.

Australia have been preparing their national squad with several Olympic Readiness Camps since January 2018.

Ryan Callinan and Julian Wilson are currently in place to take their two spots with Wade Carmichael and Owen Wright missing out.

That leaves Frenchmen Michel Bourez and Jeremy Flores to take the final two WSL qualifying places.

Plenty can change over the next four months, and the men have six competitions left to accumulate as many points as possible.

Moore leads tight women's race

The battle for women's places at Tokyo is intense, particularly for USA.

There are five Americans in the Championship Tour top seven as it stands, with two Australians splitting Hawaii's Carissa Moore at the top from four other U.S. swimmers ranked fourth to seventh.

Sally Fitzgibbons is second and, right now, would represent Australia in Tokyo along with seven-time world champ Steph Gilmore, who's third.

Behind Moore, the second American spot looks set to be a three-way tussle between last year's Championship Tour runner-up Lakey Peterson, 17-year-old Caroline Marks, and Courtney Conlogue.

All three have won Championship Tour events this year, and are split by less than 2000 ranking points, making this far too close to call.

Moore, Conlogue, and Marks have all been named on the USA's World Surfing Games roster. Peterson misses out as only the top three American women at USA Surfing's designated cut-off point, which was the fourth WSL event of the year at Margaret River, have made the team.

WSL Championship Tour women's standings (after six of 10 events; current Olympic qualifiers in bold):

  1. Carissa Moore (USA) 41,175 points
  2. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 37,325
  3. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 35,065
  4. Lakey Peterson (USA) 33,850
  5. Caroline Marks (USA) 32,135
  6. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 31,590
  7. Malia Manuel (USA) 27,800
  8. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 25,120
  9. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 21,840
  10. Johanne Defay (FRA) 19,930
  11. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 17,795
  12. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 17,570
  13. Silvana Lima (BRA) 16,800

Having switched allegiance from Hawaii last year, Tatiana Weston-Webb is all but a shoo-in to be Brazil's first female surfing representative.

Costa Rica are on course to have a representative in the form of Brisa Hennessy.

The 20-year-old has three top-five finishes in her rookie year on tour and is ninth in the standings.

France's Johanne Defay - currently 10th overall - is also in good shape to make Tokyo 2020

Silvana Lima could join Weston-Webb in the Brazil team after 13 years on the WSL tour.

She is 13th overall on 16,800, more than 4,000 points clear of New Zealand's Paige Hareb who is her nearest rival for the eighth and final WSL Olympic qualification spot.

Remaining WSL Championship Tour Events

2019 Men's CT Schedule

Tahiti Pro Teahupo'o: August 21 - September 1, 2019

Surf Ranch Pro: September 19 - 22, 2019

France Men's Pro: October 3 - 13, 2019

Meo Pro Peniche: October 16 - 28, 2019

Billabong Pipe Masters: December 8 - 20, 2019

2019 Women's CT Schedule

Surf Ranch Pro: September 19 - 22, 2019

France Women's Pro: October 3 - 13, 2019

Meo Pro Peniche: October 16 - 28, 2019

Hawaii Women's Pro: November 25 - December 7, 2019