Leading South African surfer Jordy Smith has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics due to injury.
The 33-year-old was considered a medal candidate but informed Surfing South Africa on Thursday that he was forced to withdraw, having suffered a serious knee injury in training five weeks ago.
Smith, one of two surfers selected for Team SA for the Olympics, along with Bianca Buidendag, has not fully recovered following surgery on his knee and extensive barometric recuperation and physiotherapy in Cape Town.
Surfing SA said in a statement that Smith’s spot in the Olympics will be offered to the next highest available surfer in the rankings, which happens to be an Italian in this case.
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Smith himself was ranked as high as No 7 on the international 2021 Men’s Championship Tour. His withdrawal means Isaac February will not be able to travel to Japan as an official and that Buitendag will be accompanied by head coach Greg Emslie.
The Olympic surfing competition will take place over four days between 25 July and 1 August, subject to wave conditions at Shidashita Beach.