K. Igarashi Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

One thing is apparent about silver medalist surfer Kanoa Igarashi: he was born to ride waves.

Tsutomu Igarashi, Kanoa’s father, was a surfer in Japan before he and Kanoa’s mother, Misa, immigrated to the United States.

However, they didn’t give up surfing altogether. They relocated to “Surf City” (Huntington Beach, California) with the explicit goal of immersing their children in the surf culture of the area.

K. Igarashi Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

K. Igarashi Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Kanoa, then age three, would go surfing with his dad every morning at six o’clock. Eventually, their hard work paid off, and by the age of seven, Igarashi had already won his first trophy.

From that point on, he has flourished even more.

At the age of 14, he became the youngest surfer in US history to win the under-18 US National Championships. That same year, he also became the youngest surfer to win the Governor’s Cup at the Surfing America Championships.

To qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Igarashi most recently won the World Surf League Championship and then finished third in the WSL Rip Curl Pro.

There was never a time in my life when I imagined I would be an Olympic athlete, much less win a gold medal. I never imagined Japan would host the world’s first surfing competition. To make my family proud, it felt like a higher power had placed this chance before me,” he said to Magic Seaweed.

He achieved that admirably, beating everyone he faced until the final round, where he lost to the veteran Brazilian fighter Italo Ferreira and had to settle for second place.

His medal has made Igarashi a household name in Japan, where there is widespread “adoration for their star surfer.” This is true despite the fact that surfing is still in its infancy there.

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