The 2024 Paris Olympic Games is a mere 14 months away and Guam hopes to send a contingent of surfers to compete alongside the best in the world.

To qualify for the Olympics, one hurdle remains: placing high enough at the ISA World Surfing Games in La Bocana and El Sunzal, El Salvador. The world-class short board competition will take place May 30 to June 7.

For a member of Guam to qualify for Paris 2024, they need to finish higher than other surfers from Oceania competing in the same tournament. 

“We’re honored to support our island’s surfers as they prepare to compete at the ISA World Surfing Games. Beyond strength, skill and dedication, they represent a deeply rooted connection to our ocean, the very same body that connects our island to the rest of the world,” said Joaquin Cook, president and CEO of Bank of Guam. “Their commitment to don’t stop until they're proud inspires us all to keep going, to keep working and to keep dreaming until the day those dreams become reality. Our Bank of Guam familia is proud to stand behind them as they represent our community on the global stage and we look forward to cheering them on every step of the way.”

Leading up to Guam’s decision to send a team to El Salvador, Roland Certeza, GTA president and CEO, and Lesley Leon Guerrero, Bank of Guam chief experience officer, discussed how and what they could contribute to make the surfers’ dreams become a reality. Yesterday, Certeza, in a press conference, shared that the Bank of Guam committed $10,000 in cash and GTA donated airline miles to fly the entire team to El Salvador.

“I'm really happy that we were able to pull this together,” Certeza said. “I assure the Guam community that the surfers that we are sending out, the team that is supporting them, they have a really good chance of pulling this thing off for Guam.”

Certeza not only feels they will do well in El Salvador, but they will shock the world in Tahiti, the surfing locale for the 2024 Summer Games.

“We have a good chance to place in El Salvador. But more importantly, if our team makes it to Tahiti, they have a really good chance of winning, because these guys are really good in waves of consequence when it gets critical, heavy, hollow, etc.”

The team consists of six surfers, three coaches, and one team manager. The two women surfing for Guam are Minami Cramer and Cienna Riley Purcell. The men’s surfers are Every Alexander, Jared Gogue, Derrick Ikehara and Noa Mendiola. The coaches are Cheyne Purcell, Martin Leon Guerrero and Fred Mendiola. Michelle Pier will be managing the team.

“I'm really excited for this team and the support that we've gotten from Bank of Guam, GTA, and all of our sponsors,” said Noa Mendiola. “And we look forward to this new adventure and this journey as we go on our quest for the Olympics.”

Joining the press conference via Zoom, from Surf City, El Salvador where she just finished competing in the 2023 ISA World Longboard Championships Cramer gave her fellow team members some advice.

She told the team to be prepared to do a lot of paddling and breath-holding.

Cramer finishes in Surf City

For the 19-year-old Cramer, her participation in Surf City concluded Thursday. On Tuesday, she surfed in one heat but was cast down to the repechage rounds. With only two surfers in the first consolation round, both advanced to repechage round two. Cramer, in what proved to be her final round, placed fourth. 

In her final heat, she caught a large wave, performed well, and earned praise from color commentator Rachael Tilly.

“That’s a nice turn – big S turn, wrapping all the way back around to the more critical part of the wave, the pocket of the wave,” Tilly said. “She’s waiting for this thing to stand up. I like how deep she took that into the whitewash. … Navigating that bump, really nice.”