New Zealand will have at least two surfers in the line-up at surfing's Olympic Games debut next year, with Billy Stairmand joining Ella Williams in earning qualification.
Like Williams, Raglan's Stairmand clinched his spot in the exclusive Olympics field as the last Kiwi standing at this week's International Surfing Association World Games in Japan.
Stairmand surfed an astonishing five heats on Friday to secure his position in Tokyo, beating out fellow Kiwi Kehu Butler to claim the qualification spot.
This year's ISA event was the first opportunity to qualify for surfing's Olympic Games debut, with the top male and female surfer from each continent inside the top 30 overall earning a continental qualification spot. Stairmand and Butler outlasted fellow Kiwi Ricardo Christie, as well as surfers from Australia, Fiji, Guam and American Samoa, before Stairmand was able to progress one heat further than his Mt Maunganui-based teammate.
"I didn't want to know about the Olympics stuff, and I didn't go on the internet or anything," Stairmand admitted. "I just wanted to keep making heats and worry about it later. People were asking and interviewers were saying things but I just had my head down and did my job.
"But now I am pretty freaking stoked aye. I honestly can't believe it. It's been a huge day and I'm still trying to wind down. But man-o-man, this is a dream come true and I cannot wait for the future.
"But, I still have a job to do and that is finish this completion strong."
It's the latest result in what has been an impressive year for Stairmand, who told the Herald last December he would have been happy to just make the New Zealand team for the ISA World Games this year.
He will be one of just 20 surfers in the men's competition at next year's Olympic Games, while Williams will be just one of 20 women to line up.
Williams secured her qualification spot earlier in the week in the women's competition, but will likely have to wait until December before her qualification can become official.
The New Zealand athletes benefit from the quota system put in place for the Olympics, with only two men and two women able to represent each country. Eight women and 10 men qualify by way of the World Surf League Championship Tour, where the Australian quota for the Games will be filled. As a result, the continental spot was left to be fought out between surfers from New Zealand, Fiji, American Samoa and Guam, with Williams outlasting her competitors.
Both Stairmand's and Williams' selections will need to be ratified by the New Zealand Olympic Committee before they are official.
How can New Zealand fill their Tokyo 2020 quota?
Paige Hareb and Ricardo Christie are the best positioned to secure spots in the Olympics Games, with both competing on the CT.
Hareb is one of five surfers competing for four Olympic qualification spots on the CT, with surfers from Australia and the United States accounting for the other four. Hareb's competition for the remaining spots comes from surfers from Brazil, Costa Rica and France.
With more countries represented on the men's tour, there's more competition for the 10 qualification spots. With four events left on the schedule, Christie (31st) needs some big results to get into the Olympic qualification picture, with all 10 spots currently held by surfers ranking in the top 14 on the CT.
In 2020, the ISA World Games serves up the final opportunity for Olympic qualification, with the top four eligible surfers in the men's competition and top six eligible women earning a spot in the exclusive field at Tokyo 2020.