Express Week

Top foreign, local women surfers ride waves in Siargao

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GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island -- Twenty-four women surfers from different countries trooped here to participate in the 9th Siargao International Women’s Surfing Cup, an event recognized as part of the qualifying series for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Gerry Deagan, event director, said travel advisories issued by various countries in the aftermath of the terror threat in the island province of Bohol in the Visayas did not deter many top-ranked women surfers from across the globe to join the five-day surfing competition that ended here on Saturday, May 6.

The World Surf Council, he said, had sanctioned the Siargao event as part of the qualifying series for the next summer Olympics.

According to Mayor Jaime Rusillon, 11 local bets, led by Nilbie Blancada, joined the event, hoping to qualify to the Olympic Games and win a gold medal in women’s surfing.

“It is not farfetched that we bring home the elusive gold after many decades,” Rusillon said.

Blancada bagged the 2016 Asian Surfing Championship (ASC) Women’s Open title after defeating 2015 ASC women’s champion Rina Kitazawa of Japan during the 25-minute final.

Kitazawa was among the 24 top surfers who competed here.

“I have no regrets about that tough rivalry with Rina. I just want to forget about it so I can focus on this much-awaited [chance to join the] Olympics,” Blancada said.

The two topnotch Asian women surfers, however, are facing other equally skilled surfers, such as Philippa Anderson of Australia.

“Thanks to everyone involved in making this event on schedule. I can’t wait for the warm water and the pumping waves,” Anderson said on the sidelines of the opening ceremony on May 2.

Rusillon assured participants of tight security in Siargao to ensure the success of the competition.

Assistant Secretary Frederick Alegre of the Department of Tourism said government security forces had been placed under full alert for the five-day event, assuring participants of their safety.  - CHRIS PANGANIBAN/

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