A silver surfer Olympic medalist Bianca Buitendag defeats formidable competition.
B. Buitendag Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Bianca Buitendag, a surfer from the small city of George who is now semi-retired, won silver at the Olympic Games in Tokyo on Tuesday, shocking the globe.
The 27-year-old local of Victoria Bay knocked off two of the top three seeds en route to the final, when she was ultimately defeated by American No.1 Carissa Moore, who performed miracles on the typhoon-driven waves at Tsurigasaki beach.
Earlier in the day, Buitendag, the 17th seed out of a field of 20, used the “washing machine” circumstances to her advantage and defeated the 2nd and 9th seeds, respectively, Caroline Marks of the United States and Yolanda Hopkins of Portugal.
She Advanced to the Quarterfinals on Monday after Defeating Australia’s No. 3 seed, Stephanie Gilmore.
A tearful Buitendag took her medal on the podium. I’m speechless, but I’m really honoured to stand in for the wonderful people of South Africa.
She follows Bridgitte Hartley, a kayaker from South Africa, as the only woman from her country to win an Olympic medal in a sport other than track and field or swimming.
Buitendag, a player with little chance of success, shocked the Japanese by defeating several heavyweights. As the saying goes, “Today was a fight, straight up. Each time I exited the water after a heat, I told myself that if I didn’t collapse on the sand, I hadn’t given it my all.
I tried my Hardest, that much is Certain.
There was definitely supernatural intervention, since many factors coincided. There was a confluence of favourable factors that allowed me to survive these harsh conditions.
There were challenging waves for the surfing finals since they were moved up a day due to an approaching typhoon.
The surfer, who is mentored by South African surfing icon Greg Emslie, described the waves as “six feet and messy.” It was like a whirlwind, but luckily for the underdogs, anything can happen in this game. Anybody can do it; this merely proves it.
Until his injury forced him to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics, Jordy Smith was the face of South African surfing.
For South Africa, Buitendag is the underdog who made it to the podium at the Olympics, while the vast majority of medal winners were already highly regarded before the competition began.
But for national sports organisations pressuring the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) to soften its rigorous selection procedure for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, she wouldn’t even be in the competition.
Before that, she wasn’t good enough to be selected, so she would have watched the Olympics on TV instead of taking part in history by standing on the top step of the surfing event’s inaugural Olympic podium. It was in Japan that this Olympic sport first appeared.
For Buitendag, it was important that her accomplishments encourage other women to take up surfing in her native country.
I pray that many other women will get the nerve to join me in the water and meet the one I intend to love till the day I die. The experience has therapeutic value for me. As near to heaven as you can get.
In the beginning of the year, when beaches were off-limits due to lockout restrictions, it was difficult for Buitendag to workout. She even rode out on a fishing boat to catch waves, which is against the law, just to get in some legal surf time.
On Tuesday, everything came together, and Emslie was quick to point out that this was no fluke.
It’s been four years in the making… Bianca told me that she can’t believe how lucky she has been in each heat, but I assured her that it was because of her preparation and hard work.
Getting the silver medal was a huge accomplishment.