26 October 2006
South Africa collected five medals to finish fourth out of 33 countries at the 2006 ISA World Surfing Games at Huntington Beach in California on the weekend, with Jordy Smith scoring a sensational victory in the men’s open division.
Smith wasn’t South Africa’s only gold medal medal winner, either, with Matthew Moir emerging victorious in the longboard division.
Rosanne Hodge secured a bronze in women’s competition, while the SA tag team picked up bronze behind Australia and Brazil.
The team’s performance saw them being awarded the copper medal in the team event, with Australia winning for a record eighth time, followed by Brazil and the US.
The stuff of legend
Smith’s victory was the stuff of legend. Previously he had won the under-16 world title in 2003, and finished second in the under-18 division earlier this year in Brazil. At Huntington Beach, he was forced into the repechage rounds on the first day, where one slip would mean elimination.
However, he fought his way through an incredible 10 rounds of competition, eliminating 2001 world champion CJ Hobgood along the way, as well as a number of World Championship Tour competitors.
By the time it came to the final, there was no stopping Smith. Turning on the style, he crushed the challenges of Luke Stedman, Pat O’Connell and Armando Daltro with a high-flying display.
“I’m really happy that I could do this for South Africa, my sponsors, all my friends and for myself,” Smith said afterwards. “It’s crazy to win a gold medal, it’s something you always dream of.”
Dominating longboard victory
Moir’s gold in the longboard event was achieved with far greater ease as he dominated the competition from the start. Starting on the opening day, he recorded the highest scores, and from then on, through four rounds, he won by record scores each time out.
Hodge had no problems reaching the qualifying final of the women’s event, but once there she managed only a third-place finish, which meant she would have to go through a repechage round to reach the grand final.
Showing excellent poise and determination, she held off a strong challenge from two Australians to advance with the USA’s Julia Christian to the main event.
In the final, Christian pulled off a home victory, narrowly ahead of Jacqueline Silva of Brazil, with Hodge finishing in third.