Australia’s hopes of a surfing gold medal suffered a crushing blow as world no. 5 Stephanie Gilmore crashed out of the women’s competition, losing to rank outsider Bianca Buitendag of South Africa in their last 16 heat early on Monday.
Though the waves were bigger and more powerful than those on offer during Sunday’s opening session, choosing which one to ride proved difficult and Gilmore, who posted the best scores on the opening day, came up short in her selections as Buitendag swept to victory.
Few expected Buitendag to have any chance at all against the decorated Australian, but the lack of expectations allowed her to perform at her best as she won by a score of 13.93 to 10.00.
“I had nothing to lose, absolutely no pressure. I am the underdog coming in at 17th seed for this event. I had nothing to lose and it’s a really comfortable spot to be in,” the beaming 27-year-old told reporters.