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U.S. Surfer Carissa Moore Wins The First Gold Medal Ever In Her Sport At The Olympics

Carissa Moore from the U.S. performs on the wave during the gold medal heat in the women's surfing competition at the Summer Olympics on Tuesday in Ichinomiya, Japan.
Francisco Seco
Carissa Moore from the U.S. performs on the wave during the gold medal heat in the women's surfing competition at the Summer Olympics on Tuesday in Ichinomiya, Japan.

U.S. surfer Carissa Moore is the first woman to ever win a gold medal in her sport at the Olympics.

Surfing made its Olympic debut during three days of competition at Tsurigasaki Beach, in Chiba province, 40 miles from Tokyo. Brazilian Italo Ferreira took gold in the men's event.

Moore grew up surfing with her father off Waikiki Beach in Honolulu. At 18, she became the youngest world champion surfer. Now, at 28, she's the first woman to win the Olympic gold medal in the sport.

She scored more waves on her shortboard than silver medalist Bianca Buitendag from South Africa. Japan's Tsuziki Amuro edged out American surfer Caroline Marks for the bronze.

"I feel super blessed, super fortunate. It's been an incredible experience," Moore said about winning the gold. "It's been a crazy couple of days, a little bit of a rollercoaster of emotions just trying to figure out the break, find my rhythm, learning how to trust myself without my family here." Her family, meanwhile, cheered from Hawaii.

Her win is a platform for surfing "to share some positivity and love, all that kind of stuff" she said, according to Reuters.

"The ocean has changed my life and I can't imagine my life without it, I'll be surfing until I'm in the ground," Moore added. "Riding the wave makes you feel free, it makes you feel present, it makes you feel more in love with yourself and the ocean and the environment."

A rainbow filled the sky on Tuesday as Moore shredded the waves to victory through Tropical Storm Nepartak, which created strong winds and a choppy swell.

In men's surfing, Brazilian Italo Ferreira broke his surfboard on his first wave. The 27-year-old went on to beat Japan's Kanoa Igarashi, who learned to surf on the beach where he was competing. Ferreira's teammates celebrated by lifting him on their shoulders. Carissa Moore was held aloft in her rad victory, too.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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