Surfer Smith hopes to catch big break in familiar waters

Jordy Smith should be named today in Team SA to represent the country at the Paris Olympics. | Red Bull

Jordy Smith should be named today in Team SA to represent the country at the Paris Olympics. | Red Bull

Published May 15, 2024


Mike Greenaway

One of South Africa’s leading medal hopes at the imminent Olympic Games, Jordy Smith, says the surfing event will not be for the faint of heart because of its location in Tahiti, French Polynesia.

Durbanite Smith is the most experienced surfer on the World Surf League and he says the waves in Tahiti are “the most dangerous in the world”.

“The waves there suit anyone willing to risk their life,” Smith said, with a smile. “I’ve been surfing Tahiti for 20 years and we’re talking scary waves. It is beauty and the beast out there.

“If you want to win gold, you have to put it all on the line and go for it,” the 36-year-old Red Bull surfer said.

Jordy Smith. | Red Bull

Smith is regarded as the best surfer in the world not to win the world title. He has come close on numerous occasions but has been thwarted by an unfortunate run of injuries.

He is currently fifth in the world rankings and he will be joined by Matthew McGillivray (ranked 20th) and Sarah Baum in the SA surfing team. Each country that has qualified has two men and a woman.

Smith says that he will be busting a gut to follow in the footsteps of the Springboks and fighter Dricus du Plessis to have South Africans celebrating once more.

“Anything green and gold I get patriotic about,” the jovial Smith said.

“I draw from the Boks and all of our sports teams. I’ve just been watching our junior (surfing) team doing well in El Salvador.

“As a nation, we are pretty small in the big scheme of things. We are a nation of 60 million and you have a country like Brazil that has 350 million.

“The thing is, it only takes one to the best,” Smith said, laughing. “That is all that counts.”

Smith says the usual suspects on the world tour have qualified for the surfing event.

“It will be the very best in the world at the Olympics. The thing with the world title is that is down to a collection of results over the year across 10 events. The cream rises to the top over the year but the Olympics is decided over a few days and Mother Nature can play a big role. She is not consistent with the surf and an inexperienced guy could get lucky by getting some good waves.

“By the same token, I know Tahiti very well. In fact, I am leaving next week to surf an event there. So, I will get all my equipment there and be nicely set up by the time the Olympic event starts (July 27 to August 5).”

Smith says it would mean the world to him to get on the podium.

“I qualified for the last Olympics but got injured just before the event. That was a bitter pill to swallow. It is not too often you get a second chance in life, so I am going to put my best foot forward.”

Smith should be named today at Sascoc House in Johannesburg when the first batch of athletes that will represent South Africa in Paris later this year will be announced. The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee will reveal the track and field participants, as well those that will represent SA in sports climbing, gymnastics, surfing, aquatics and wrestling.