Local Girl Carissa Moore Wins the First Olympic Gold Medal for Surfing!
Photo Credit to @rissmoore10
This week, local Honolulu surfer Carissa Moore made history by becoming the first woman to win an Olympic gold medal in surfing (with Brazilian Italo Ferreira winning the first gold for the men). The win (over South African Bianca Buitendag) cemented Carissa’s reputation as one of the all-time surfing great, as she adds her gold medal to four world titles (won in 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2019). But Carissa’s path to the Olympics wasn’t easy. She has worked hard her entire life, all the while maintaining the incredibly positive attitude and sweet demeanor that we all love about her.
Carissa was born in August of 1992, and started surfing Waikiki with her dad when she was five years old. By the time she was 10, she was well-known throughout Hawaii as the state’s best up-and-coming female surfer. At 11, she won her first NSSA title, and soon found herself competing in the ISA World Junior Championships, where she helped Hawaii win a team championship. She ultimately went on to win 11 NSSA championships, and was the youngest woman to ever win a Triple Crown of Surfing event when she took out the Reef Pro at 16.
Going pro at the age of 17, she qualified for the world tour and won rookie of the year her first year. The next year, she won her first world title, making her the youngest surfer in history to be surfing world champion. That year, she also received a wild card into the Triple Crown of Surfing and surfed in the Haleiwa and Sunset events—the first woman to ever do so.
Photo Credit to @wsl
After winning her fourth world championship in 2019 (and qualifying for the Olympics in the process), she decided to take a year off from competition and focus on other interests. As it turned out, 2020 was a great year to do so, since competitive surfing was cancelled due to COVID-19. She resumed competition in 2021 and currently leads the world tour and is the favorite to win the world title once again.
Coming into the Olympics, Carissa the favorite to win gold, as her performances over the past few years have been the most dominant in the sport. She surfed for the US in the Olympics, since Hawaii was not allowed to have its own Olympic team (even though athletes from Hawaii are permitted to surf under the Hawaiian flag in WSL events). Carissa was also the only surfer in the Olympic field to be native Hawaiian. The other members of team USA were Caroline Marks, John John Florence, and Kolohe Andino.