Original article published May 10, 2017 (Featured Image from Liberian Surfing Association)
In August 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved five new sports to debut at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan. They are baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sports climbing, and surfing. The decision to add these sports are the product of a two year process to refocus the Olympics with innovation, flexibility, and youth development in mind.
“The five sports are an innovative combination of established and emerging, youth-focused events that are popular in Japan and will add to the legacy of the Tokyo Games.”
Thomas Bach – IOC President
One of these sports in particular has been emerging in Liberia, since 2005. Surfing. Yes, you read that correctly. However, you won’t hear Liberians saying, “surfs up.” To Liberians surfing is known as “sliding” on the water.
Alfred Lomax is Liberia’s first surfer and two time national champion. Lomax found peace and solace in the waves post-war. His best friend, Benjamin McCrumada, also took up the sport. This passion for hanging ten led to a documentary called “Sliding Liberia,” others learning to surf, and numerous surf competitions in Robertsport, Liberia.
Kwepunha Surf Retreat opened in 2012 and not only serves as a surf retreat/camp, but also as a support to the surrounding community. Partnering with Surf Resource Liberia, youth are able to enjoy surf/swim classes, water safety, and most of all mentoring. McCrumada is still in Robertsport and works as the Caretaker for the Kwepunha Villas property.
Liberia’s beautiful coastline stretches over 500 km. Waves visiting Her shores have been known to give surfers an adrenaline rush. The passion and drive of surfers back home coupled with the newly announced Olympic sport, could bring a new type of Liberian competitor to the Olympics. Although there has not been any word yet on the surf qualifications, we do know that it will likely take place over a course of smaller competitions. There will be a total of 40 persons (20 men and 20 women), only high-performance short-boarding allowed, and it will take place in Chiba (www.surfer.com).