Olympics

Olympic Surfing: How It All Started With a San Diego Dream

Surfing is expected to be a crowd favorite when it makes its Olympic debut this summer in Tokyo

NBCUniversal, Inc.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better sports venue in the world than the Southern California coastline where surfers - young, old, beginner, and expert - all catch waves in the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

Now the sport, which is an integral part of so many San Diego lives, will get an unprecedented platform on a global scale in Tokyo as it makes its Olympic debut.

It’s a dream, more than 20 years in the making and it all started in La Jolla.

Fernando Aguerre, president of the International Surfing Association, or ISA, started working towards getting surfing into the Olympics back in 1994.

The ISA, surfing’s governing body across the world, provides guidance and rules for 108 countries and is also the only international sports federation based in the United States.

The organization has just a handful of employees.

“We like to say a small organization with a very big heart,” said Bob Fasulo, executive director of the ISA.

The International Olympic Committee started looking at new sports for the 2020 Olympics back in 2014 and invited 26 sports to pitch their ideas.

Only five new sports would end up receiving approval in 2016 and surfing was one of them.

"It's something completely new to the Olympic program and brings youthfulness, it brings lifestyle, it brings culture, this connection to the environment," said Fasulo.

The men’s and women’s surfing will take place in the ocean at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, near Tokyo, as opposed to a man-made wave pool, making nature an integral part of the competition.

Team USA has already announced it’s four surfers, two men, and two women.

Carissa Moore and Caroline Marks will represent our country in the women’s competition and John Florence and Kolohe Andino for the men.

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