Kelly Slater has announced that he will retire from surfing next year as he hopes to call it quits after the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Slater, considered by most as the greatest surfer of all-time, joined the tour as a rookie in 1990.
The American holds just about every record in surfing having won 11 world tittles on the World Surf League. He has won 55 events and holds the record for being both the youngest and oldest world champion.
At 51 years old, the surfing world has been waiting for the day the legend calls time on his career. Slater missed out on the USA Surfing team for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021 after being named as an alternative for John John Florence and Kolohe Andino.
However, in an interview with The Guardian Australia, Slater said he would retire from the sport if he makes the USA Team for the Paris Olympic Games. This is his last remaining ambition having completed all there is to do in the sport.
“If I make the Olympics, I’ll retire at the Olympics,” he said, ahead of the new Apple TV World Surf League documentary Make or Break. “I’m really hoping to qualify for it, but I need to get my butt into gear.
“The qualification process is going to be tough, but if I can get into the Olympics, the location the event is at in Tahiti – that wave really suits my strengths. So if I can get there I think I have a really good chance of a medal, but I think the harder part is going to be getting there, to be honest.”
Slater said his goal was always to be a world champion, which there is no doubt he has achieved. But, the American said the Olympics has rejuvenated the spark inside of him and he wants to surf in Paris as a final farewell.
Kelly Slater's legacy in surfing
In 2018, Slater had hinted that he would retire at the end of 2019. However, the American continued on the World Surf League. Slater claimed his first world title at just 19 years old back in 1992 and he won his last at 39 in 2011.
Slater won an incredible five world titles in a row between 1993-1998, which saw him dominate the tour. The American icon retired from competition in 1999 while still on top of the sport, which was a surprise to many.
However, Slater returned in 2002 and went on to win four more world titles in 2005, 2008, 2010, and his last in 2011. Slater most recently won the Pipeline in Hawaii last year. The Paris Olympic Games will be held in Tahiti at the Teahupo'o break. Slater has won the World Surf League event in Tahiti five times and hopes this could work in his favour for the Olympics.
Away from the surf, Slater is undoubtedly the biggest name in surfing and has been for three decades. The American helped bring the sport into mainstream popularity. Slater is currently ranked World No.16 and recently finished ninth at the Hurley Pro Sunset beach tournament.
The GOAT! 🏄♂️
— Matt’s what he said (@DirtyJerseyMatt) February 23, 2023
What a legend
— Margerie Linton (@LintonMargerie) February 23, 2023
What a beautiful sport to be a legend in.
In the moment it is just you, wind, waves and the pulse of the ocean.
Surfing is a spiritual sport.
— Jake Winker Frogen (@JWFrogen) February 23, 2023
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