Steph Gilmore has been eliminated from the surfing event in devastating scenes at the Tokyo Olympics.
The seven-time world champion is out of the hunt for a medal after a shock loss to South African Bianca Buitendag on Monday.
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The Australian star took to the water in the opening heat of round three at Tsurigasaki beach, and got off to a promising start.
But 27-year-old Buitendag, who no longer competes on the World Surf League, nailed two consecutive wave scores of 6.83 and then 7.10 to storm past Gilmore.
That left Gilmore needing 7.76 to regain the lead and while she had 14 minutes up her sleeve, couldn't find the winning waves with the final margin 13.93 to 10.0.
World No.3 Gilmore was in great touch in her opening heat, posting the highest score of the women's competition.
However she couldn't replicate that form a day later, ruing the fact she simply couldn't catch a good wave when it counted.
"I looked at that wave and I was like, it doesn't look that good, so I let her have it and she turned it into a seven, so that was the most frustrating thing to me - like, man, I should have just taken that wave," Gilmore said.
"That's just the nature of surfing, sometimes the waves are there, sometimes the waves are not."
Gilmore said she'd loved being involved in surfing's Olympic debut and had already been thinking about how she could be involved again in 2023.
Buitendag was ranked as high as world No.4 in 2014 but hasn't had full-time status since 2016 and secured Olympic qualification through the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games.
— 7Olympics (@7olympics) July 25, 2021
Oh dear...now this is an upset
— fpvlfc (@fpvlfc) July 25, 2021
absolutely gutted for steph gilmore she deserved to be on that podium #Surfing
— rosie (@winterosldier) July 25, 2021
Steph Gilmore knocked out in the heats. How devastating for one of the greats #Olympics
— Michael Kay 🎧 (@mjk993) July 25, 2021
Legit devastated that Steph Gilmore is eliminated. I had her for getting a medal. 😭
— mich (@mich_dev) July 25, 2021
— Whitney (@WhitneyDeWall) July 25, 2021
Aussie surfers make strong start at Olympics
Australians Sally Fitzgibbons, Owen Wright and Julian Wilson all made it through their heats on Sunday.
Gilmore, Fitzgibbons and Wright all won their respective first round heats as the sport enjoyed its Olympic debut, while Wilson scraped through after being forced to take part in the sudden-death second round.
"We're just trying to enjoy the experience. This is really such a trip to be here at the Olympics," Gilmore said.
Fitzgibbons used a 7-point ride to power her way into Monday's third round where she will go head-to-head with France's Pauline Ado.
But also lurking in the third round is four-time world champion and current WSL ratings leader Carissa Moore, who was untroubled in winning the opening heat of the women's competition.
Wright chipped away to win his morning heat, producing four rides between 4.43 and 5.51.
His two-wave total of 10.4 was enough to hold off Moroccan surprise packet Ramzi Boukhiam as two-time world champion John John Florence was relegated to the second round, though the American eventually progressed.
Wright admitted pre-event nerves had him feeling sick before his heat as he set up a third round meeting with France's Jeremy Flores.
"I'm feeling pretty emotional," Wright admitted.
"It's a whole different thing surfing in the Olympics. It's a very proud moment for me. Olympics is a whole different ballgame. I've never felt this type of emotion whilst competing before - a super proud moment to get that first heat win."
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