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Connor O'Leary Named to Japan's 2024 Olympic Surfing Team

Australian-born surfer Connor O'Leary was selected to represent his mother's homeland at the Paris Games. Competitors will ride the waves in Tahiti.

Connor O'Leary will fill the third and final spot on Japan's men's Olympic surfing team for the 2024 Paris Games.

The Nippon Surfing Association made the announcement on Tuesday, March 12.

Previously, Kanoa Igarashi, the silver medalist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and Reo Inaba had secured berths.

The International Olympic Committee approved O'Leary's nationality change from Australian to Japanese in 2023. And he began competing on the World Surf League Championship Tour as a Japanese participant in January 2024.

For O'Leary, the World Surf League's 2017 Rookie of the Year, Tuesday's news was thrilling.

"So excited to officially announce that I will be representing Japan at the Paris 2024 Olympics!" O'Leary wrote on Instagram. "Thank you to the NSA & the JOC (Japanese Olympic Committee) for the incredible opportunity. Tahiti here we come."

Although the French capital will stage the Summer Games for the third time after previously serving as host in 1900 and 1924, the surfing competition will take place in Teahupo'o on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia. July 27 to August 5 are the scheduled dates.

The Japanese Olympic trio compete in World Surf League events. Igarashi and O'Leary are currently ranked fifth and 10th on the WSL Men's Championship Tour, while Inaba is 23rd in the Qualifying Series rankings.

In 2023, O'Leary was 11th overall and Igarashi finished 14th on the Championship Tour.

Connor O'Leary
Connor O'Leary in an October 2021 file photo. (Laurent Masurel/WSL)

Connor O'Leary Hopes to Inspire Japanese and Australian Surfers

In a recent interview with Guardian Australia, the Australian website for the British newspaper, O'Leary, 30, spoke about his ambition to be a positive role model for surfers in Japan and Australia.

"I want to see some Japanese surfers on the tour in the next couple of years ― there's so much talent," O'Leary told the website in February, referring to the fact that he and Igarashi are the only Japanese men currently competing on the Championship Tour. "To be that face on the tour for them, and help the Australian kids as well, what more can you ask for?"

And what are his expectations for the Olympic competition in Tahiti?

"I don't really know what to expect, which is really exciting,"  O'Leary said, according to Guardian Australia. "You do the tour every year and you come into every event having a gauge on what might happen ― the Olympics is going to be on a whole other level, a whole new intensity in the water."

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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