Guam's Jared Gogue gave the island its best shot at the 2020 Olympics but fell just shy of the top two in his second repechage heat at the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games presented by Vans Thursday evening at Miyazaki, Japan.
Gogue, who has competed in several countries including the U.S., Mexico and Japan, advanced to the second round after posting a stellar 10.23 in his morning heat. Gogue, who is currently surfing professionally in California, was the first Guam surfer to advance.
"So close!" Gogue said. "Just gotta train harder."
In the second heat, he was only a shade behind the Philippines' Rogelio Esquivel Jr. However, Esquivel had priority and with time running out took the closest wave, effectively blocking out any shot Gogue would have at making up for lost time.
It's the nature of the game, Gogue said, especially with an Olympic berth on the line.
When competing, Gogue said his mindset was all about positioning himself for the best waves to get the best scoring opportunity.
All of the island's surfers have fallen out of contention, but Guam has taken its run at the biggest stage, setting up visions of what could be, where the island's place is and how much work needs to be done.
"I hope this event inspires the next generation of Guam surfers to travel and chase their dreams," said Gogue, who is aiming to win a pro/pro am contest in California or around the world in the World Surf League qualifying series.
"I am really proud of each member of the team for coming to such a world class event and all putting up such a good fight," said Guam coach Lindsey Wilson. "They represented Guam very well! I was honored to be a part of it all."
Her hope is that Guam will continue the momentum into next year's world surfing championships and other regional competitions.
For Wilson, who is five months pregnant and currently sidelined from competition, said she would love to compete again.
"For now, I am just grateful to be a part of Team Guam in any way I can!" she said.
The team's youngest surfer, Irie Fitzgerald, said she will be competing in the World Surfing Junior Championships and heading to California for more competitions.
"This combo is one of the biggest in the surfing circuit," said Gogue, adding he will get back into training mode when he gets back to California.
"I train four days a week in the gym, mostly cardio, core and arms," he said. "Surfing is the best training though ... I surf every day!"
Gogue said he was thankful for the opportunity and grateful to represent Guam.
Teammates Alison Bowman and Fitzgerald echoed his sentiments toward representing the island on the biggest stage.
"I just want to say a big thanks to GTA for sponsorship and all the officials for putting the team together," Gogue said. "Then, thank you to my mom and dad for supporting my dreams."