Aussie Olympic Surfing Hopes Receive Massive Boost for Japan 2020 with Bede Durbidge announced as Surfing Australia Elite Program Manager

COOLANGATTA/QLD(Tuesday August 8th/2017): Former Pipe Master, Triple Crown Champion and long-time World Surf League (WSL) competitor Bede Durbidge has accepted the role of Surfing Australia Elite Program Manager in a major boost to Aussie medal hopes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

After coaching Hawaiian John John Florence in his world title winning 2016 campaign, he said his focus is now building on already strong relationships with Australian athletes and coaches with gold medals the goal.

Durbidge, who incredibly returned to elite level competition at the beginning of the 2017 season after a life-threatening injury suffered in late 2015 at the Pipe Masters, will begin his new role in early 2018 and will officially retire from competitive surfing at the conclusion of the Australian WSL leg in Margaret River in 2018.

The primary purpose of this new role is to ensure there is high quality daily training environment, coaching, and competition solutions available for nationally identified elite athletes who will form part of the Australian Olympic Squad to be announced in January 2018.

The role will work closely with high performance coaches working with nationally identified surfers across the network and will lead the Australian Olympic Surfing Team at the key benchmark event the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

“I'm honoured to take on this role as Elite Program Manager. Coaching is something I'm so passionate about and to be able to work with Australia's best athletes and coaches I'm just relishing the opportunity. I feel I have fulfilled my competitive surfing dream and next year will be perfect timing to transit into this role. It's a very exciting time in surfing and the Tokyo Olympics will come around before we know it. Australia has a great chance of winning the first gold medals in surfing so preparation will be key over the next few years,” said Durbidge.

With World Surf League men’s world tour victories at the 2006 Boost Mobile Pro at Trestles, the 2007 Rip Curl Pipeline Masters in Hawaii and the 2008 Hang loose Santa Catarina in Brazil, the North Stradbroke Island legend knows what it takes to win at the elite level.

Three time Men’s World Champion Mick Fanning was stoked to hear the news his good friend and tour mate Durbidge would play a critical role in the Australia’s Olympic history come 2020.

“I’m extremely happy that Bede is the new Elite Program Manager. Knowing Bede on a professional and personal level I think he's the perfect person for the job. He’s been one of the most dedicated athletes on tour and an amazing tactician so he'll be able to help out in so many different areas. Bede is very willing to do the hard yards and will cover all bases when it comes to planning all programs for our athletes. He’s a man I respect immensely for many different reasons and I think Australian Surfing will feel the benefits of having him on-board,” said Fanning.

Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark said someone with Durbidge’s credentials and personality were perfectly suited to the newly created role.

“This is a critical role that will be instrumental towards our Olympic campaign. Bede is an amazing athlete and coach and has immense credibility and respect from all the Australian World Tour Surfers and their respective coaches and will be an amazing asset to our high-performance team. Bede will be the key and constant communicator with our Olympic Squad to ensure that our Australian team athletes are at their absolute best in Japan in the moment of the first ever Olympic surfing Gold Medals,” said Stark.

Surfing Australia Chair and seven time Women’s World Champion Layne Beachley said Durbidge’s appointment would only bolster Surfing Australia’s strong elite program as we head for success in Japan Olympics.

“This is a major coup for Surfing Australia, our High-Performance program and our athletes as we edge closer to the Olympic Games in 2020. To achieve success, you must surround yourself with the best and Bede is the perfect choice for the role given his competitive record, coaching success, and resilience to overcome life threatening injuries. Bede is a wonderful addition to the team and I am excited to work with him to achieve our shared vision of Gold in Tokyo, “said Beachley.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kate Palmer welcomed the announcement.

“The Australian Sports Commission and AIS has a very strong partnership with Surfing Australia and we’ve been encouraged by their organisational progress in recent years, in participation initiatives as well as high performance.

“The inclusion of surfing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is exciting for the sport and we share Surfing Australia’s ambition to challenge the world’s best for the inaugural Olympic medals.

“It’s fantastic to see that Surfing Australia’s development pathways will enable an accomplished athlete like Bede to continue his involvement in the sport, passing on his experience and expertise to others in this high-performance role.”

Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll was quick to back Durbidge’s appointment and the direction Surfing Australia will now take towards Tokyo 2020.

“Surfing is one of five sports added to Tokyo 2020 Games and this is a great appointment to kick-start surfing’s Olympic high-performance program in preparation of the sport’s Olympic debut in just under three years’ time,” said Carroll. 

“The sport has long been ingrained in Australian culture which has helped us to produce numerous men’s and women’s world champions. We now look forward to seeing our Australian surfing contingent continue to succeed under the guidance of Durbidge and the new elite program put in place by Surfing Australia.”

This important announcement comes only weeks after Surfing Australia completed an extensive and rigorous review of its high-performance program with a view to ensure the organisation is set up to maximise its chances to achieve the first ever surfing Gold medal in the 2020 Olympic Games.

The extensive review process undertaken over the month of June engaged a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders, included elite surfing athletes, elite surf coaches, and other Olympic sport athletes, CEO’s and Performance Directors and Head Coaches

Further announcements about the new structure and subsequent appointments will be released in coming weeks.