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Olympic Dreams: Surfers in Jacksonville riding wave of possibility as surfing takes spotlight in Tokyo

Surfing is one of four sports making an Olympic debut during Tokyo 2020 and Jacksonville Olympic hopefuls are hooked.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Surfing is underway as Tokyo 2020 begins to heat up with intense competition.

The Jacksonville Board Riders Club is closely watching surfers hang 10 for the first time as the sport makes its Olympic debut. Surfing coach Jason Motes says he’s stoked about his students possibly one day riding a wave all the way to the Olympic stage.

Under overcast skies, heavy wind and whipping red flags warning swimmers to beware of rip currents, you’ll find Motes and his students enjoying the ocean’s roaring waves.

“Hey did y'all have fun out there today?” Motes asked a group of excited kids. “Anyone get a good wave?”

Hands quickly raise among the group as they shout, “me, me!”

The rough conditions are "ideal," according to Motes.

"Oh my gosh, that was sick,” Motes exclaimed as he intently watches his surfers. “That was Delanie. That was a little girl. Delanie, whoa, yeah!"

He gets excited about this sport that has morphed into a lifestyle.

“Come on, old guy,” one Motes yells to another.

It's a family affair at Motes Militia, Jason's surf camp.

"Hey, you're crushing it,” Jason Motes said to his father as he walks up and the two give each other a high five. “That one set you guys had was gnarly. I was like hey dude!"

Known as "gramps," 70 years young, he's helping to coach some of the best up-and-coming surfers on the East Coast. They're riding the wave of possibility now that surfing is an Olympic competition.

"It's about time,” Gramps exclaimed! “I've been waiting for surfing to go to the Olympics all of my surfing life, 58 years. To see it actually finally coming to fruition, I'm super stoked!"

Gramps taught Jason, Jason taught his son Josh, and three generations of surfers are now teaching possibly future surfing Olympians.

"Some of these kids that we're training right now will be in the Olympics in the future,” Gramps declared. “I guarantee ya!"

“We are developing these kids for that,” Jason said before turning to his campers. “So y'all gonna come back tomorrow or are we done?” 

The kids replied excitedly, “Yeah, definitely, it was so fun!”