What: Bali Asian Beach Games Where: Kuta Beach, Bali When: October 21, 2008

Surfing made its first appearance on an Olympic sport calendar of events this week, compliments of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and the organizing Committee of the Bali Asian Beach Games in Indonesia.

It was fitting that the Open division started the program and the surfing standard didn’t disappoint. Fast and powerful, aerials and floaters entertained the large crowd. The man-on-man final, in 1-metre waves, was an Indonesian affair with Made Raditya Rondi facing off against Made Widiarta. After a slow start Widiarta eventually got to the lead and wasn’t headed. Third place was Shigenori Suzuki (Japan) with Carlito Nogalo (Philippines) in fourth. Widiarta was mobbed by the crowd as he left the water, a popular win on his home beach.

In a variation of event format, a discipline will be decided each day. The longboards are up on Monday, then Women’s shortboard, Men’s Aerial and finally the team event to finish proceedings later in the week.

So far the experiment has been a great success. Surfing athletes competing represent Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam and The Maldives. It is a big achievement for surfing to appear here, with the Philippines only recently forming their national Association and affiliating to their National Olympic Committee and The Maldives and Vietnam surfers being represented in such a major event for the first time. Mohamed Irishad was the highest scorer for the Maldives and Dinh Nguyen Van making the highest wave score for Vietnam. Facing up to the powerhouse Asian surfing nations was a hard but exciting way to enter international competition and great experiences were gained.

The medal presentation will take place at a formal ceremony at the conclusion of the whole program.

As an innovation of the OCA, the Beach Games have brought together seventeen (17) sports, competing for Olympic medals around the Bali locations of Sanur, Nusa Dua, Serangan Island and Kuta Beach. Most sports are new to the Olympic family of sports. Entry is only through National Olympic Committee nomination and within Asia surfing is a new and very underdeveloped sport in terms of organisation, but the OCA see it as a major youth sport and have been willing to give it a chance to shine in its arena.