Gold ideas at national pro surfing hub
THE Tweed has no shortage of surfing stars, and ample supplies of champion-worthy swells.
And the Surfing Australia High Performance Centre is tapping into both of those treasure troves as it prepares for the sport's first appearance at the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.
Surfing Australia's national high performance director Kim Crane said Stephanie Gilmore, Owen and Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons were among those at a three-day Olympic Readiness Camp last month.
As the Coolangatta Surfing Australia headquarters move to the Barclay Drive, Casuarina centre and a massive expansion progresses, Crane said everything was aimed at building Australia's chances of Olympic success.
The expansion will include a new, larger gymnasium, new surf skate space known as the Dream Factory with a ramp, Olympic trampolines, foam pit and more.
An underground carpark has already been constructed and the above-ground spaces under construction have increased the facility's street impact.
Crane said the changes were a move towards making the High Performance Centre a "one-stop shop for high performance”.
"(We'll have) the ability to have not only our Olympic team prepare here but our Talent Pathway athletes as well,” she said.
She said nurturing the growing talents of World Qualifying Series and Pro Junior surfers was a high priority.
Among WQS surfers who frequent the centre is Tweed surfer Kobie Enright, who has so far experienced a strong 2018 season.
Above the facility's office space, four-star accommodation means their athlete camps - like last month's - would be self-sustained.
She said this would make professional development for current and rising stars of the surf to access quality professional development.
As newcomers to the Olympics, she said it was an exciting time to be working with Australia's stellar surfing cohort.
"Because we have not been in the Olympics before... it's like a blank canvas,” she said.
"We are literally treading new grounds and that is exciting.
"It's a multi-sport event and the eyes of the world will be on our sport.”
While she stressed Australia - and the Tweed - had churned out top-level athletes without surfing's inclusion in the Olympics, Crane said Tokyo 2020 would bring a big change.
"The Olympics just magnify everything,” she said.
"Being able to handle performance pressure in that environment is different to what they experience on the world tour.”
But she said the inclusion in two years' time would be positive for our athletes.
"We are about inspiring Australians... and making our surfers the best athletes and people they can be,” she said.
In the lead-up to Tokyo, she said the upgraded facilities, expected to be complete in the middle of the year, would not only help our surfers.
"The facility will be open to other sports as well, to stay here and book it out for their own camps,” Crane said.
"Because of the equipment we have, the main sports we'll be attracting include winter sports, diving and skateboarding.
"Rugby teams have stayed here.”