Kanoa Igarashi, who finished third at the 2017 Billabong Pipe Masters and won the 2017 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing, announced on Monday that he would be representing the country of Japan on the Championship Tour (CT) starting immediately. Igarashi hopes to eventually represent Japan in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Igarashi, 20, grew up in Huntington Beach, California but is a dual citizen of both the United States and Japan. By announcing his representation of Japan on the World Championship Tour, he officially becomes the first-ever CT surfer to represent Japan.

“I am proud to surf for Japan,” Igarashi said in a press release from the World Surf League.

“My parents are Japanese, my whole family is Japanese. I have a lot of support and fans over there. We do not have any Japanese surfers on the CT, so it is something for them to cheer for and have that part in the WSL. I am sure they are really excited, and I am looking forward to it. My family is stoked.”

Kanoa Igarashi. Photo: Courtesy of Damien Poullenot/WSL

Igarashi joined the CT in 2016 as its youngest member at the time, 17, and has finished inside the top 20 both years since. With surfing to be included for the first time in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Igarashi has his eyes on a wonderful story as he looks to reconnect with his Japanese roots:

“I want to be able to compete in the Olympics and represent Japan. I grew up competing for USA and have a lot of support over here, but this is a different part of my career now. The Olympics is the greatest competition in all of sports and it is something that you dream of doing as a kid. I never thought it would be possible as a surfer. It is a really exciting time for surfing. I am going to do my best to represent surfing in the best way possible.”

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