Algarve surfer Yolanda Hopkins Sequeira was eliminated in the quarter finals of the first-ever Tokyo Olympics surfing competition, held in the early hours of this Tuesday morning at Tsurigasaki beach in Chiba, Japan.
Her score of 5.46 (3.93 on the first wave and 1.53 on the second) was insufficient to overcome South-Africa’s Bianca Buitendag, who scored 9.5 (6 and 3.5).
Despite coming so close to the semi-finals, Yolanda was happy about her performance at her first Olympics.
“I’ve already received a diploma in my first Olympic Games and I’m very happy about that,” the surfer told reporters after the event.
“I am very competitive, and I came here with my eyes on the gold, and nothing more. I ended up falling a bit behind, but I am very happy about my performance. I know my level of surfing is enough to get up there. I didn’t happen this time, it’ll happen next time,” she said.
The 23-year-old surfer thanked everyone who supported her on her path to the Olympics and expressed her hopes that her exposure at the Olympics will help her reach a higher level.
“I’ve had a lot of difficulties in my life, there were times where it was complicated to even get enough money to eat. My coach (John Tranter) has helped me a lot. I live at his house. He saw my potential. He’s like family,” she said.
So far, Yolanda’s fifth place in the Olympic surfing competition is the best result of a Portuguese athlete along with Portuguese judoka Catarina Costa.
While she wants to return to the 2024 Paris Olympics, Yolanda warns that a lack of funding and support is her biggest obstacle.
“If I ever stopped surfing, it would be because I didn’t have enough money. I hope that after representing Portugal in this way I can have more opportunities to fulfill myself, do what I love and have some concrete support behind me,” the young athlete said, adding that €50,000 would help her achieve the “minimum of the minimum” in terms of results at the World Championship Tour.
Still, she is confident that she will be representing Portugal at the Olympics in four years’ time.
“I want to and will qualify. I am very excited about it, and I will practice. I want to have my best performance there,” she said.