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Carissa Moore reflects on winning the 1st gold medal in Olympic surfing

Moore called her victory a "really special moment" and thanked those who've supported her on her athletic journey.
/ Source: TODAY

Carissa Moore is still riding the wave of her success after winning the gold medal in women's surfing at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, the first time the sport was featured at the Olympics.

The history-making athlete joined TODAY on Tuesday to reflect on that "really special moment," as she called it, with Savannah Guthrie and Craig Melvin.

"It's been a long journey to get to this moment and I wouldn't be here today without all those incredible people behind me," the 28-year-old said.

She also called the victory a "huge moment" for her native Hawaii, where surfing is central to the culture.

"It's the best sport in the world," she said. "I'm biased, but it's just nice to share it with a whole other stage and with a whole bigger audience. Surfing, it just brings so much joy, and I hope that people can sense that when they watch."

U.S.'s Carissa Moore competes during the women's surfing gold medal final at the Tsurigasaki beach on July 27, 2021, during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.Yuki Iwamura / AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, several events were rescheduled due to a tropical storm, but the surfing final was actually moved up from Wednesday to Tuesday to take advantage of the waves it provided.

Moore said she and her competitors "were actually praying for a typhoon."

"We really wanted some waves to perform," she said. "The conditions were actually challenging. There was a lot of water moving, there wasn't one defined peak, it was a lot of adapting and moving around and going with the flow. It was hard but happy to figure it out."

Carissa Moore celebrates after winning the women's surfing gold medal final at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.Yuki Iwamura / AFP via Getty Images

Moore took home the gold in a head-to-head competition with South Africa's Bianca Buitendag with a score of 14.93 to 8.46 in Tuesday's showdown at Tsurigasaki Beach, about 60 miles from Tokyo.

The four-time World Surf League champion entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed and delivered on expectations to make history in surfing's Olympic debut.

Moore turned in a high score of 7.60 and 7.33 on two of her waves to seal the victory. A panel of five judges scored each competitor's wave on a scale of 0.1 to 10.0, with the highest and lowest of five scores being thrown out. The average of the three remaining scores then became the surfer's overall score.

The Hawaii native took the lead in the final round and stayed on top as Buitendag's highest score was a 5.23 on her final wave.