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Gilmore eliminated from Olympics surfing


Stephanie Gilmore will be haunted by a poor wave choice that ended her hunt for an Olympic surfing medal, crashing out in the third round to South African outsider Bianca Buitendag.

Australia’s seven-time world champion took to the water in Monday’s opening heat at Tsurigasaki beach and got off to a promising start.

But 27-year-old Buitendag, who no longer competes on the World Surf League, nailed two consecutive big scores to storm past Gilmore.

The 33-year-old Queenslander will rue her decision to cede priority to Buitendag, who used the wave to post a 7.10 – the biggest score of the match-up.

“I looked at that wave and I was like, it doesn’t look that good, so I let her have it and she turned it into a seven, so that was the most frustrating thing to me – like, man, I should have just taken that wave,” Gilmore said.

The South African’s scores of 6.83 and then 7.10 left Gilmore needing 7.76 to regain the lead and while she had 14 minutes up her sleeve, she couldn’t find the winning waves with the final margin 13.93 to 10.0.

“That’s just the nature of surfing, sometimes the waves are there, sometimes the waves are not,” Gilmore said.

The world No.5 looked on track for a medal, posting the highest score of the women’s competition in the opening round but couldn’t replicate that form a day later.

Buitendag was ranked as high as world No.4 in 2014 but hasn’t had full-time status since 2016 and secured Olympic qualification through the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games.

Gilmore said she’d loved being involved in surfing’s Olympic debut and had already been thinking about how she could be involved again in 2023.


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