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Cornish surfers Ellie Turner and Luke Dillon hope for Olympic glory

17-year-old Ellie Turner hopes to meet the strict entry requirements for Tokyo 2020. Credit: ITV West Country

When it was announced that surfing would become an Olympic sport, there was plenty of excitement. It's since emerged that it will actually be very hard for any of the region's surfers to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

It means an uphill struggle for the likes of 17-year-old Ellie Turner from Bude and 24-year-old Luke Dillon from Newquay.

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There are strict qualification requirements for the surfing competitions at Tokyo 2020.

In the first place, only surfers on shortboards will be allowed to take part and that rules out longboarders and means Newquay's Ben Skinner, who's one of the world's best, won't be able to take part.

Secondly only 20 men and 20 women are eligible. They will be made up of:

  • 10 top men and 8 top women surfers from the 2019 World Surf League
  • 4 men and 6 women who finish top in the 2020 World Surfing Games
  • 4 men and 4 women from Africa, Asia, Europe and Oceania who top the places in the 2019 World Surfing Games
  • 1 man and 1 woman - the winners of the 2019 Pan American Games
  • 1 man and 1 woman from the host nation, Japan
Luke Dillon has been competing abroad a lot with a view to qualifying for Tokyo 2020. Credit: ITV West Country

Luke Dillon has been competing in events stretching from Brazil to Indonesia. He's currently ranked 80th in the world and says he's in with a chance of making Tokyo.

If I can get my world ranking inside the world top 100 it catapults me higher than if I was just to stay at home and compete at home.

It's all about just getting that one good result because that can push you up maybe 50, 80 spots, so I just need to keep plugging away - get myself out there.

– Luke Dillon, Surfer
17-year-old Ellie Turner from Bude is optimistic about her chances of qualifying for Tokyo 2020. Credit: ITV West Country

Ellie Turner is also trying to qualify. She's one of the most promising female surfers in Europe and is optimistic about Tokyo.

She says, "If I surf my best there's a fair chance but it's going to be a really difficult competition. Obviously there's going to be loads of people trying to qualify through that but I think there's a fair chance."

It may be too soon for Tokyo but there's more confidence that Luke and Ellie and other UK surfers will make the Paris Olympics in 2024.

For the first time the Government has granted funding for the sport - nearly £200,000. Surfing journalist Steve England says it could transform the UK's chances.

With the Government funding hopefully that'll come in and we'll get a programme of sports development. They'll take all the young medal hopes. They'll put them into a camp. They'll have professional sports coaching. They'll have sports psychologists. They'll have nutritionists. They'll have a plan. They'll be able to go out and surf against other countries.

– Steve England, Surfing journalist

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