Australian surfer targeted in shocking act of unsportsmanship among junior surfing world champions

4 Min Read

Australia have won the World Junior Surfing Championships despite an incredible act of poor sportsmanship that tried to bring them down.

The Australian team, called the Irukandjis, won the ISA World Junior Championships in El Salvador in a dominant performance that included gold medals for Denmark’s Henry and Ziggy Aloha Mackenzie.

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The win was overshadowed by a shocking moment involving Australian competitor Willow Hardy when she was targeted by a rival in the U18 women’s rematch.

Hardy was in fourth place in the four-person heat, needing a score of 2.4 to advance with less than a minute left in the heat.

She took off on a wave, after which Erica Maximo White from Portgual surfed her path and deliberately caused interference.

Maximo even tried to push Hardy off her surfboard, shouted profanities at her and tried to grab the leash attached to her surfboard.

Watch the shocking moment of surfing sportsmanship in the video above

A Portuguese surfer (left) tries to push Aussie Willow Hardy (right) off her board. Photo@surfingrepublicaSource: supplied
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She deliberately got in the Australian’s way. Photo: Instagram@surfingrepublicaSource: supplied

Somehow Hardy managed to stay on her feet and she did enough to progress, limiting Maximo’s attempts to help her Portuguese teammate stay in the top two.

Irukandji’s coach Pete Duncan filed a successful protest, resulting in Maximo’s disqualification.

“Although competitive surfing has a tactical element, there is no place for unsportsmanlike behavior,” Duncan said CODE Sports.

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“We are incredibly proud of the way Willow remained calm in an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation.”

Maximo later apologized on social media to Hardy, the Australian team and the ISA.

“Yesterday we had a situation where I know it wasn’t my proudest moment,” she said.

“I unsportsmanlikely interfered with the Australian surfer’s wave.

“That wasn’t my goal. I just wanted to help my team, but I acknowledge my mistake and I am here to apologize, especially to the Australian surfer, the Australian team and the ISA.

“These situations cannot happen.

“I realized the consequences of this incident and assure you all that something like this will never happen again.”

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Australian surfer Dane Henry after winning the gold medal in the under-18 boys division at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Surf City El Salvador. Photo: ISA/Pablo FrancoSource: News Corp Australia

Meanwhile, Henry became the first Australian to win the U18 division in 15 years, with the team captain calling the event the “best experience of my life”, while Mackenzie said she was overwhelmed when she won the U16 girls title.

Surfing Australia National High-Performance Director Kate Wilcomes said the Irukandjis’ win represented where Australian surfing was at and the level of dominance it wanted to continue to deliver.

“This team and support staff have not only worked hard, but they have built and embraced the fighting spirit of the Irukandji. We are all so proud of all these athletes and how they have represented Australia.”

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