Gilmore eager to lock down Olympic spot

Stephanie Gilmore will aim for her fourth event win in France to keep her Tokyo 2020 hopes alive.
Stephanie Gilmore will aim for her fourth event win in France to keep her Tokyo 2020 hopes alive.

Defending world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore admits she wants to end the uncertainty and secure a spot in next year's Olympics as soon as possible.

With only three stops remaining in this year's World Surf League championship, Gilmore knows she's running out of chances to successfully retain her crown.

The 31-year-old heads into the Roxy Pro France fourth on the standings behind Americans Carissa Moore and Lakey Peterson and fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons.

With just one win to her name this year, only Gilmore's consistency has kept her hopes of a record eighth championship alive.

Her sensational victory in Bali remains Gilmore's only final appearance in 2019 but by reaching the quarter-finals at least in the other six events, she has managed to stay within striking distance of championship leader Moore.

The added pressure of this year's World Surf League doubling as a qualifier for the inaugural Olympic surfing event in Tokyo 2020 had played its part in her form.

A good result in France will not only keep her in the title hunt but should be enough to ensure she and Fitzgibbons will be Australia's two female representatives in Tokyo.

"If I can qualify for the Olympic Games it would really ease my nerves," said Gilmore, a three-time event winner in France.

"Being in the top two surfers from your country is a really tough battle so it's going to be exciting to watch that go down.

"I'd love to make the team and represent Australia."

Fitzgibbons (2013) and Moore (2016, 17) are also previous winners in Hessegor, while Peterson heads to France on the back of her victory at the Freshwater Pro last month.

Moore tops the rankings on 47,260 points with Peterson (43,850) and Fitzgibbons (42,070).

With France and then the Rip Curl Pro event in Portugal before the season-ending Hawaii Pro, Gilmore knows it's a case of now or never if she's going to stay in the title race.

"This event marks the beginning of the end for us," she said.

"Conditions in Europe are always the most challenging because you don't know what you're going to get so you have to be able to adapt."

The Roxy Pro and Quiksilver Pro France event window runs from October 3 to 13.

Australian Associated Press