SURFING NEWS - Bianca Buitendag from Victoria Bay was the standout performer for South Africa at the ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) at Myazaki in Japan.
The 25-year-old won a bronze medal in the women's event, contributing a massive 730 points to the team total.
The Mercedes-Benz Buffalo City South African surfing team finished fifth overall and earned two medals. Buitendag has also won bronze and copper medals in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
She was ably supported by Australia-based former Durbanite Sarah Baum, who placed 21st overall, and 15-year-old East Londoner Zoe Steyn who ended her second ISA WSG in 29th place out of the 103 women.
Buitendag also participated in the silver medal-winning Aloha Cup event and earned provisional qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the highest placed woman from the African continent.
South Africa, who finished fourth overall at last year's ISA WSG, can be proud of their fifth place in 2019.
The event attracted a record-setting 55 nations and 240 of the world's best surfers, including a host of current and former world champions who were intent on winning the team and individual titles. The event was also part of the qualifying process for surfing's debut on the Olympic stage next year.
Michael February (Kommetjie) fared best of the South African men with his 22nd-place finish, while Beyrick de Vries (uMhlanga) and Jordy Smith (Durban) placed equal, 31st out of the 137 men.
In the ISA Aloha Cup, a form of relay surfing, the South African squad of Smith, February, Buitendag and Baum comfortably won their semi-final against Japan, Peru and Argentina. The competition entails a squad of two men and two women who each has to ride two waves before returning to the beach to "tag" the next teammate, with all eight rides counting and having to be completed within a prescribed time limit.
Up against Japan, USA and Australia in the final, the South Africans finished just 0.08 of a point behind the surfers from Down Under to clinch the silver medal ahead of USA and the host nation.
South Africa's finish among the top eight-ranked nations in Myazaki has earned the team an invitation to the 2020 Aloha Cup at next year's ISA WSG.
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