Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Surfing: Mount rider chasing Olympics dream (+video)

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New Zealand surfing rep Raiha Ensor has the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo in her sights.

The 16-year-old Mount Maunganui College student is hopeful the vote by IOC members to be held next month will give surfing the green light to be included at the Olympics for the first time in 2020.

"It is exciting. If I do well at this event in Costa Rica I will be setting myself up nicely to maybe go to the Olympic Games in 2020," Raiha said.

"In the surfing community the Olympics has been going around for the last couple of years I guess so everyone has been thinking about it a bit."

The timing would be ideal for Raiha as she continues to make rapid progress among the top echelon of Kiwi surfers.

In the next two months she will represent New Zealand at two major events.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games at Jaco Beach, Costa Rica begin on August 6, followed by the World Junior Championships in the Azores Islands off Portugal in September.

Raiha is the youngest member of the New Zealand women's team to compete in Costa Rica, with the next youngest aged 19.

She said her selection was the highlight of her surfing career so far, following two standout performances that clinched her place in the team.

In April she finished second at the prestigious Rip Curl Raglan Pro at Manu Bay, behind New Zealand teammate Ella Williams, before an outstanding third place at the Rip Curl GromSearch International final held in Hawaii in May.

"You have a national competition first and I won that before going over to Hawaii. I didn't quite get to the final but it was still a pretty amazing achievement," Raiha said.

"The best kids from all around the world were there, like the winners of their national events, and there were some who had competed at world tour events there.

"To get where I got was pretty amazing."

Jaco Beach is internationally regarded for its high-quality waves and will host the world games for the first time since 2009. It will be Raiha's first time competing there so will be something of a step into the unknown.

"I haven't been there before so I don't really know the standard of surfing, whether it is similar to the juniors or what-not.

"Once I am over there and see the standard of surfing and talent I will be able to see what goal I can set myself."

Raiha would love to turn pro and compete on the world tour one day: "I definitely want to make a career out of it.

"It is what I love and I am extremely passionate about it.

"But if I am unable to do that I just want to keep surfing and make sure I still have the love for it throughout my life."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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