Surfing Legend Kelly Slater To Retire Before Tokyo 2020
Surfing great Kelly Slater will call time on his career after the 2019 World Surf League pro tour, ending his chances of winning Olympic gold.
The American made his announcement just hours after Australian surfer Joel Parkinson also called it quits.
“My basic plan is to get myself really healthy, again, and get ready for April next year. And next year will be my last year on tour, and just be done with it,” Slater said during the J-Bay Open event in South Africa.
The eleven-time WSL champion’s farewell contest will be the Pipe Masters in Hawaii next year.
Succumbing to Injury
While certainly a blow to the sport, the news of Slater’s retirement isn’t surprising.
The 46-year-old missed most of last season with a serious foot injury and hinted at retirement.
But despite the obvious disappointment of losing his fitness battle, he gave a philosophical response when quizzed about it.
“I went through my whole career only ever missing a single event at a time from injuries, I never had a long period of time out,” he said.
“To have an injury at this point instead of when I was 22 is a blessing.”
Homage to Parkinson
Former world champion Parkinson’s departure is also a big loss for the sport.
The 37-year-old will also retire at the Pipe Masters, citing ‘no more fire or desire’ to win.
Slater was quick to praise his fellow surfing legend.
“I thought it was a great announcement, it kind of inspired me to get my focus on here,” Slater said.
“His post was really honest. It felt full of excitement for where he’s going and what he’s doing.”
Slater the GOAT
Slater is an 11-time world champion and undoubtedly the sports’ greatest-of-all-time.
He also won a further 55 tour titles, since his debut in 1992.
Slater was also his sport’s youngest-ever tour champion at just 20. He won his most recent title at 39.
Even in the latter stages of his career, Slater’s influence on surfing was plain to see.
This technology makes the sport accessible to those living inland and was made a 2018 Championship Tour venue.
Surfing at Tokyo 2020
Surfing will make its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020.
After several attempts at Olympic inclusion, the sport was added to the Olympic programme alongside karate, skateboarding and softball/baseball in Japan.
The event will take place at Shidashita Beach, approximately 40 miles outside Tokyo in Chiba Prefecture.
With Slater absent from competition, early favourites to win surfing’s first ever men’s gold medal will be compatriot John John Florence, and Brazil’s Gabriel Medina.
In the women’s division USA’s Lakey Peterson could be the one to beat.