A member of the French surfing team and a European and World Championship winning athlete, Justine Dupont now divides her time between competing and chairing the International Surfing Association’s (ISA) Athletes’ Commission. Here, she explains how the athletes have been at the heart of the movement to make surfing an Olympic sport, and how they are working to ensure it makes a splash at Tokyo 2020.

  • ISA Athletes’ Commission chair Justine Dupont explains how the commission is putting the interests of all athletes at the centre of its drive for surfing to remain an Olympic sport
  • It is essential that surfing maintains its respect for nature and the ocean, she says
  • The global network of athletes’ commissions will be sharing best practices at the 2019 International Athletes’ Forum

I’ve been an athlete since I learned how to walk. I started with a lot of different sports, some close to nature like sailing. I think it’s very important to try a wide variety of sports when you’re young as you can discover which one really suits who you are. Surfing particularly appealed to me as I love to be close to nature and the ocean. Interacting with nature while not being completely in control of what you do… It’s absolutely fantastic.

Sport has helped me a lot and has given me so much knowledge to improve who I am as a person, as a human being. I’m really thankful to surfing and all it’s given me.

I really enjoy taking a leadership role where I can make positive change for the sport that I love.

By surfers, for surfers
I was honoured to accept the ISA’s invitation to chair their first-ever Athletes’ Commission. As a long-time ISA competitor and professional surfer, I really enjoy taking a leadership role where I can make positive change for the sport that I love.

The commission aims to be diligent and thorough in making sure that we are passionately representing the vision and interests of all athletes of all genders, disciplines, and nationalities, to ensure that we continue the positive growth of surfing and on track to a great showing at Tokyo 2020.

Making a splash in Japan and beyond
It’s going to be very significant to have the Olympic Games in Tokyo and we have to make sure that we put on a great show. I think our sport has some really good values that are also important to the Olympic Games, so it will be fantastic to bring all the surfing culture and vibe to Tokyo 2020. It is a really exciting time for the surfing community!

Who knows where surfing will be in ten years, but I hope it will bring the culture and vibe from the very beginning. It’s also essential that we work hard to ensure surfing upholds its key values such as having a connection with nature, respecting the ocean, and discovering yourself. Push yourself to your limit!

For me, being a part of the Olympic Games means greater exposure, more people involved, and more people discovering surfing and the value of the sport. We can bring all these positive aspects of surfing to many more people with the Olympic Games, which could project a good image of the sport and bring more professional opportunities for surfers. More girls, more boys, and more youths will have a goal to go to the Olympic Games, to perform and to push the level of surfing higher and higher.

It is the start of an exciting time for surfing in France, seeing the sport remaining in the Olympic Games until Paris 2024 and beyond, inspiring future generations.

I always dreamed of taking part in the Olympic Games and I can now start thinking about participating in France. It’s very special! At the moment, France is among the top surfing nations in the world. We now have the incredible dream of winning a gold medal on our own waves in 2024.

Evolving the sport
In Tokyo, they will have a wave pool as well as the ocean. Of course, we want to keep surfing in the ocean for the majority of the time, but if conditions are not ideal, then the wave pool is a fantastic alternative.

It’s certainly a positive development and putting surfing in the Games will only propel the wave pool movement. It’s exciting for the sport in general, and you don’t know where it’s going to go. To have a wave pool in the middle of a country or city where finding good surfing conditions would otherwise be impossible means the sport will become far more accessible. I think it’s going to be a completely new generation who will take part in surfing.

Athlete representatives from all International Federations and National Olympic Committees will be able to share best practices and discuss key issues at the 2019 International Athletes’ Forum, which will take place on 13-15 April.