Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams are set to be part of Olympic Games history on Sunday, when the first heats of the surfing competition get underway in Japan.
The Kiwi duo are among just 40 athletes to have qualified for the event, with 20 surfers lining up in both the men's and women's fields at Tsurigasaki Beach just outside of Tokyo.
Several world champions join them in the quest for gold. In the men's field, Brazilian duo Gabriel Medina and Italo Ferreira have won the last two WSL titles, while John John Florence (USA) won back-to-back titles in 2016 and 17.
In the women's field, Stephanie Gilmore (Australia) and Carissa Moore (USA) have combined to win 11 of the past 13 World Surf League Championship Tour titles, while Peru's Sofia Mulanovich claimed the title in 2004. Sally Fitzgibbons (Australia) won the International Surfing Association World Games at this venue in 2018 as well as taking the title earlier this year in El Salvador.
Williams (2013), France's Pauline Ado (2008) and Japan's Amuro Tsuzuki (2019) are other world champions in the field, all claiming the WSL Junior World Championship.
Stairmand and Williams enter their draws seeded 18 and 19.
While not a location known for the consistency of its conditions, the weather is expected to do its part for the opening heats, with a decent sized swell forecast for the opening days of the competition.
"You never know what you're going to get, so I'm preparing for a bit of everything and definitely working on the grovelling; fine tuning a lot of things," Williams told the Herald.
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"Either way, you're out there in the water with Mother Nature, the waves will come, the waves will go. It's the same environment for us, so I'm feeling quite happy, calm and excited about it.
"I'm taking it as another comp. I know it's going to be a beach; we're going to have waves – I don't know how big or how small – but I know I'm preparing myself for that side of things and the rest will be taken care of."
Williams will surf in the fifth heat of the women's draw, against Caroline Marks (USA), Yolanda Hopkins (Portugal) and Leilani McGonagle (Costa Rica). Stairmand will meet Julian Wilson (Australia), Kolohe Andino (USA) and Lucca Mesinas (Peru) in the third heat of the men's draw.
Every athlete in the field will surf in at least two heats. The top two surfers in every heat of the opening round will progress straight into round three, while the third and fourth placed surfers are reseeded and surf in a round two repechage.
While the opening two rounds see four-person heats, two athletes go head-to-head in every heat from the third round.
The action is scheduled to get underway at 10am on Sunday, with the men taking to the water first. The first women's heat is scheduled to start at 1.20pm.
Stairmand's heat is scheduled for 10.40am, with Williams' at 4pm.