Aussie-born Connor O’Leary picked by Japan for Olympic surfing spot

April 4th, 2024

Connor O’Leary, a surfer originally from Australia, revealed that he’s been chosen to represent Japan at the Paris 2024 Olympics. This decision came after he formally changed his allegiance to his mother’s homeland last year. Hailing from Cronulla in south Sydney, O’Leary was granted a third men’s spot on the Japan team by the Nippon Surfing Association. This additional slot was secured after the team triumphed in a qualification event at Huntington Beach in 2022. Typically, Olympic teams are restricted to two surfers per gender.

Expressing his excitement on Instagram, O’Leary exclaimed, “So excited to officially announce that I will be representing Japan at the Paris 2024 Olympics. Thank you to the NSA & the JOC for the incredible opportunity. Tahiti here we come.”

Known for his prowess as a goofy-footer, O’Leary, who prefers to surf with his right foot forward, feels at ease tackling challenging waves, including those at Teahupo’o in Tahiti, the venue for the Olympics. His inclusion in the Japan team, alongside Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallist Kanoa Igarashi and Reo Inaba, is expected to be a significant boost.

Among Japanese surfers, Shino Matsuda stands as the sole woman to qualify for Paris 2024.

Despite finishing 11th on the professional world championship tour last year, O’Leary missed out on securing one of the two men’s spots for the Australian Olympic team, which went to Jack Robinson and Ethan Ewing.

Having a proficiency in Japanese and having proudly sported Japan’s flag on his competition shirt for several years, O’Leary now officially represents Japan on the world tour, where he holds a commendable fifth ranking after impressive performances in the opening two events in Hawaii.

Reflecting on his decision to switch allegiance in 2023, O’Leary shared his journey of reconciling his dual national identity while growing up in Cronulla. He admitted, “I spent a lot of time as a kid putting my Japanese heritage behind me to try and fit in with Australian culture and school.” However, as he matured, he came to appreciate the uniqueness of being multicultural. “How cool is it to be Australian but also Japanese, and I just want to highlight that,” he emphasized.

Categories: Contests, Olympics, People