Photo: ISA

Photo: ISA

The Inertia

On Sunday, Sally Fitzgibbons won the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games, but she won’t be going to the Paris Olympics. Despite her record-setting fourth win at the event, Fitzgibbons’ Olympic dreams were ultimately decided by the idiosyncrasies of a byzantine qualification system and a mere 0.24 of a point.

Going into the ISA World Surfing Games, Australia’s two-woman Olympic team had already been decided via the 2023 CT standings. The top eight women earned qualification spots, and though there are many other avenues for qualification, the CT rankings supersede them. Molly Picklum and Tyler Wright both qualified for Team Australia way back in August, with their respective third and fifth place rankings.

However, there was one way that Fitzgibbons could possibly qualify: If Australia earned another entry. The men’s and women’s national teams with the highest combined point totals at the 2024 World Surfing Games qualified for a third entry to the games, to be decided by each country’s National Olympic Committee.

Which brings us to the final heat. Brazil and Australia were neck and neck in the women’s team rankings, meaning that the final placement of Team Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb was just as important as a win for Fitzgibbons. In the end, Weston-Webb just barely beat out France’s Johanne Defay for second place, with a 12.24 total to Defay’s 12.00. The extra 130 points from her second-place finish propelled Brazil to first in the overall rankings by a mere 35 points.

Though the final decision has yet to be announced by Brazil’s National Olympic Committee, Luana Silva is considered the frontrunner to take that third slot on the country’s women’s Olympic team.

So there you have it. Though Fitzgibbons literally could not have done any more to earn her place in the lineup at Teahupo’o, in the end it came down to the 0.24 of a point between second and third place.


Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.