Sligo surfers head to Ja­pan for Olympic qual­i­fiers

The Sligo Champion - - SPORT -

Two Sligo Surf­ing Club mem­bers will this week travel to Ja­pan to com­pete in this week­end’s World Surf­ing Games in Ta­hara.

Kerry Larkin (in­set) and Gearoid McDaid will take part in the cham­pi­onships which serves as a qual­i­fier for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Kerry, a lec­turer at the In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in Sligo has been lec­tur­ing in Bach­e­lor of Sport with Busi­ness at IT Sligo for the past twelve years and is also cur­rently managing the cam­pus surf club.

He is how­ever best known for his surf­ing achieve­ments, hav­ing com­peted in two Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships and won both se­nior and masters na­tional cham­pi­onships.

Kerry also re­cently achieved both a first and a sec­ond place in the Sligo Open surf­ing cham­pi­onships in the Masters Di­vi­sion and Open Di­vi­sion re­spec­tively.

This week’s com­pe­ti­tion is part of the se­lec­tion pro­ce­dure for 2020, which will be the first time surf­ing is recog­nised as an Olympic sport.

Kerry be- the age and gan surf­ing at of 14 was in- stantly hooked to the sport, quickly be­com­ing an in­struc­tor at the Jamie Knox surf school in Bran­don Bay in County Kerry.

In 1996, af­ter fin­ish­ing school in Tralee, the then stu­dent chose to study in Sligo.

Pre­dom­i­nantly be­cause of its surf­ing rep­u­ta­tion and the ap­peal of hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to both get­ting a de­gree and surf reg­u­larly in Sligo.

So ded­i­cated is Kerry to his sport, af­ter lec­tures he would cy­cle ev­ery­day from Sligo to Strand­hill with his surf­board un­der his arm.

Kerry is hugely pas­sion­ate about surf­ing and says he would highly rec­om­mend any­body to take up the sport as a recre­ational hobby above all else:

“Sligo has the best coast in Europe for surf­ing”, he says.

“If you live in Sligo and don’t surf, it’s like liv­ing in the Alps and not ski­ing!

“Surfers come here from all over the world.

“The south-west­erly off shore winds and gran­ite reef make high qual­ity and con­sis­tent waves.

“Com­bine this with rel­a­tively warm wa­ters and long days, surfers can’t get enough.”

How­ever, Kerry finds him­self a lit­tle be­mused at the lack of in­ter­est in surf­ing from Ir­ish stu­dents.

“We have two Ger­man stu­dents com­ing to IT Sligo this year be­cause of the added bonus of the surf we have here.

“I bring thirty stu­dents a month out surf­ing and mostly it’s all over­seas stu­dents bar one or two Ir­ish.”

Kerry joins fel­low Sligo Surf­ing Club mem­ber and Calry man Gearoid in the three men and three women team who will rep­re­sent Ire­land in Ja­pan.

Each surfer will be given twenty min­utes in the wa­ter and are marked on power, speed and flow.

They will also be judged on their wave se­lec­tion and tech­ni­cal abil­ity on the board.

Kerry is de­lighted to have the chance to rep­re­sent Ire­land in Ja­pan.

He says he hopes the Ir­ish team’s achieve­ments will help pro­mote Sligo as a des­ti­na­tion for surf­ing for ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing lo­cals.

“The ge­ol­ogy of Sligo’s coast makes it per­fect for surf­ing”, he ex­plains. “I’ve surfed all over the world. “Peo­ple don’t re­alise this place is right up there as the best surf­ing des­ti­na­tion on the planet.

“I would re­ally en­cour­age any stu­dent com­ing to IT Sligo this year to take up surf­ing”

The World Surf­ing Cham­pi­onship takes place in Ta­hara, Ja­pan from this Satur­day, Septem­ber 15th with com­pe­ti­tion tak­ing place up un­til the 22nd.

Kerry Larkin, Lec­turer at IT Sligo who is trav­el­ling to Ja­pan this week to take part in the World Surf­ing Games in Ta­hara.

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