Who is Carissa Moore? The US surfer who is aiming for Olympic gold

Team USA athlete went to same high school in Hawaii as Barack Obama

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Monday 26 July 2021 21:35
comments
<p>Carissa Moore of Team United States reacts after winning her Women's Round 3 heat on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on July 26, 2021 in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan.</p>

Carissa Moore of Team United States reacts after winning her Women's Round 3 heat on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on July 26, 2021 in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan.

She is the most successful and high-profile female surfer in the world.

And reigning world champion surfer Carissa Moore also shares something in common with a former US president.

For the Hawaii native went to the same private school attended by Barack Obama as he grew up on Oahu.

The Punahou School in Honolulu has had at least one student to make an Olympic team for the last 11 Games.

Moore, 28, is a Hawaii native who started surfing on Waikiki Beach with her dad when she was just five.

In 2008 at the age of 16 she became the youngest ever winner of a Triple Crown of Surfing event, the Reef Hawaiian Pro, and three years later became the first-ever woman to compete in the men’s competition.

She won 11 amateur titles before joining the professional World Surf League championship tour in 2010.

And in 2011 at the age of 18, she became the youngest world champion, going on to win titles in 2013, 2015 and 2019.

In 2017 she married her high school sweetheart Luke Untermann in a back garden wedding ceremony.

She has admitted struggling with accepting her own body and told ESPN she had battled disordered eating behaviour, before becoming comfortable with herself.

In 2018 Moore and her father started the Moore Aloha foundation that uses surfing to bring together girls and young women through the sport and to encourage them “to be strong, confident and compassionate individuals.”

She has also spoken up for protecting the ocean environment.

“I want to encourage you to do your part,” she said in a video released by USA Surfing while wearing her Olympic shirt.

“Every little bit counts — when I was little, I used to pick up three pieces of trash whenever I went to the beach, just imagine if we all did that, what a difference that would make.”

Moore admits that she has eyes firmly set on gold, and does not take defeat well.

“I’m not going to lie I have a really hard time dealing with defeat,” she said.

“Like my husband knows, I have a full, 24-hour period where I’m allowed to be irrational and talk crazy and throw a fit and cry.”

Moore admits that she lost confidence in her abilities around 2018, when she had failed to win a World Championship for three years.

“I can remember rock bottom,” she told USA TODAY Sports.

“It was 2018 at Jeffreys Bay and the waves were pumping, they were amazing. It’s probably the best you could ask for, and usually when the swell provides, I feel like I step up and I perform well. And I just totally fell apart.

“I was overcome with anxiety and I ended up losing really early in that event.

“I just remember keeping my jersey on, surfing all the way down the point, going for a walk miles down the beach and, it’s like, being so bummed that I just wanted to paddle out and not come back.”

She started to work with a mental coach and adopted a more “aggressive approach”, and it seemed to have an impact as she won the 2019 World Championship, her first since 2015.

Now she has her sights set on being crowned the first ever Olympic women’s gold medalist to add to her Hall of Fame achievements.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments