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Elite surfing student sets sights on next Games

26 Jul 2021

The inclusion of surfing as an Olympic sport in Tokyo has inspired USC graduand Sophie McCulloch to set her sights on competing at the 2024 Games in Paris.

Sophie, 22, of Alexandra Headland, competes in the International World Surf League Challenger Series and has enjoyed seeing her heroes Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore and Julian Wilson progress through the opening rounds at Japan’s Shidashita Beach.

Sophie has just completed a combined degree in Marketing and Biomedical Science at USC, where she was a member of the University’s High Performance Student Athlete program.

A video of Sophie being interviewed about her surfing ambitions by Sunshine Coast Lightning goal shooter Peace Proscovia is online at USC’s ‘Aiming for Games Glory’ page.

In the interview, she describes the introduction of surfing to the Olympics as a huge step for the sport.

“We haven’t always been noticed as professional athletes and I believe that being a part of the Olympics will help everyone else gain an understanding of the sport,” she said.

“The next Olympics is definitely one of my main goals. I would love to be able to have the opportunity to try and win gold for my country.”

Six athletes associated with USC are competing in the Tokyo Games.

Results for USC athletes to date are:

  • Kaylee McKeown set a new Olympic Record and finished as the fastest qualifier in 100m backstroke heats on Sunday night in a time of 57.88 seconds. She finished second in her semi-final today in 58.11 seconds and is the third fastest qualifier for tomorrow’s final.
  • Kaia Parnaby in the Australian softball team has had one win from four games in the opening round. The team defeated Italy 1-0 in its second match, but lost to Japan 8-1, Canada 7-1, and the USA 2-1.

Events involving USC athletes in the days ahead:

Monday 26 July (evening)

  • Kaia Parnaby in Australian team, softball game against Mexico at 9pm. Link here.

Tuesday 27 July

  • Kaylee McKeown in women’s 100m backstroke final at 11.51am. Link here.
  • MAYBE: Kaia Parnaby in Australian team, softball bronze medal game at 2pm. Link here.

Wednesday 28 July

  • Leah Neale in Women’s 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay heats from 9:34pm. Link here.

— Terry Walsh

Sophie McCulloch (Photo Credit Adam Styles)

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