Once the sport of laid back beachheads, surfing is now set for its Olympic debut on Sunday - and you’d better believe the Kiwi athletes involved are pumped.
In fact, it’s fair to say Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams are riding a wave of Olympic optimism at Tsuginasaki Beach and the athlete’s village.
The pair have quickly gained a reputation as the most excited athletes in the village; embracing being there with other Olympians on sport’s biggest stage.
“It’s a moment everyone can see what surfing has to bring,” Williams said.
“Hopefully we bring a bit of fun to the Olympics,” Stairmand added.
It’s a huge moment for one of the new generation sports that has battled doubts from traditionalists as to whether it belongs in a high-performance environment.
Coach Matt Scorringe said the Kiwis, along with the rest of the field competing, will prove critics wrong next week.
“At the end of the day, these two are fierce, gritty competitors and they won’t let anyone take anything without a fight.”
The Olympic field will be 10 times smaller than what the pair often face and features plenty of surfers they’ve beaten before, leaving the small Kiwi unit quietly confident.
“They both know it. I know it. They can medal just as well as anyone they really can,” Scorringe said.
“Obviously the ocean is a wild thing - it can always change and not one wave is exactly the same so you’ve got to adapt on your feet, have the right equipment be prepared as much as you can,” Stairmand added.
The tight knit trio, who grew up surfing and competing alongside each other, said they’re ready to get serious when it counts too.
“For them, it’s just being cool under that pressure moment,” Scorringe said.
“They can do all the tricks they need to do to win, they just have to get those waves and stay on their feet.”