Tokyo Olympics

SA's silver surfer Buitendag confirms retirement after Tokyo heroics: 'I went out with a bang'

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South African surfer Bianca Buitendag wins silver at Tokyo Olympics
South African surfer Bianca Buitendag wins silver at Tokyo Olympics
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

South African star surfer Bianca Buitendag was lost for words as she claimed the silver medal in women's surfing at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.

Buitendag, who was the 17th seed, stunned all competitors by booking her place in the final against American Clarissa Moore.

The 27-year-old scored 5.23 and 3.23 with her two best waves to total 8.46, losing to Moore by 6.47 points after the American scored 7.60 and 7.33 to finish with 14.93 and become the first women's surfing Olympic champion.

It was always a tough ask for the 27-year-old Buitendag to defeat the four-time world champion Moore.

"I surprised myself, I promise you. I'm overwhelmed, I don't even know what to say," said Buitendag at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach.

"You guys have no idea (what it means to me). But every obstacle just gave me more motivation to make my country and its beautiful people proud.

"I would like to say thank you to Greg Emslie, who has been covering as manager, coach and everything - he has been amazing and I owe a lot to him."

Buitendag revealed that Tuesday's Olympic duel will be her last as she hangs up her surfing board for good.

"It's a historical moment, I'll only realise the magnitude in a few days, but it's awesome," said Buitendag.

"It's also the last contest of my life, so I went out with a bang.

"I've made the most of a lot of the opportunities given and never really let one slip past. It's time to carry on with the next season of my life."

Buitendag, who hails from Victoria Bay, said the troubling times in the Rainbow Nation presently inspired her.

"It did to a certain extent. You wouldn't wish it on anyone else. Beauty comes from ashes and that we can turn this around," she said. 

Buitendag's silver medal is South Africa's second medal winner of the Tokyo Olympics after Tatjana Schoenmaker's silver in the women's 100m breaststroke earlier on Tuesday.

*Lynn Butler is in Tokyo covering the Olympic Games for Sport24

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