Big waves elude Bianca Buitendag in Olympic final but she bags a silver medal
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CAPE TOWN - SURFING is as much about timing as it is skill and flair, and it was just not on Bianca Buitendag’s side in the Tokyo Olympics final on Tuesday as she lost out on the gold medal to American Carissa Moore.
The 27-year-old Buitendag had enjoyed an incredible day after winning her quarter-final against Yolanda Hopkins of Portugal by 9.50 to 5.46, and then the United States’ Caroline Marks in the semi-final by 11.00 to 3.67 – having also knocked out seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore of Australia on Monday (13.93 to 10.00).
So, it was all to play for in the final, where she was up against four-time world champion and No 1 seed Moore, who was the favourite – although Buitendag had a favourable 5-3 win ratio in previous contests.
The 17th-seeded Buitendag, from Victoria Bay on the Garden Route, had the pressure piled on her from the start as it was Moore who caught a few good early waves.
The 28-year-old from Honolulu in Hawaii scored 3.17 and 3.40 in her second and third waves, but then two big ones arrived – 7.33 and 7.60 – which took her overall score to 14.93, with the two top waves being added up.
In contrast, the choppy surf just didn’t result in any really big waves for Buitendag. She scored 2.40 in her fifth wave, and then 3.23 in her sixth, but then time began to run out.
Buitendag kept on searching for a wave near to perfect 10 at that stage, which was required to beat Moore.
But the best she could come up with was a 5.23 in his eighth wave, and she came back to shore before the clock ran out.
It was still a memorable event for the South African, though, in what was the sport’s first appearance at the Olympics. She increased her team’s medal tally to two, after swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker also grabbed a silver in the women’s 100m breaststroke earlier on Tuesday.