Barbados’ surfing sensation Chelsea Tuach made a big splash over the weekend to claim a historic silver medal at the 13th Pan American Surfing Games in Peru.
The 22-year-old Tuach made her country proud by capturing Barbados’ first ever medal at the event, but missed out on the gold in controversial circumstances involving Ornella Pellizzari of Argentina.
Tuach outsurfed her opponent, scoring a total of 14 points to the Argentine’s 13.83, but a contentious interference call at the start of the heat saw one of her scores cut in half and that cost her the gold.
“At the start of the heat I had priority for the wave and took off. Meanwhile, the Argentine surfer paddled around me and dropped in on the inside. In surfing this is called ‘snaking’ and is not legal. But the judges called the interference on me. It is a disappointing end to an amazing week for me,” she said.
In spite of the disappointment, Tuach was upbeat about her performances throughout the five days of competition at the Punta Rocas Beach in Lima.
The Barbadian advanced to the quarterfinals with victories over Madeline Ryan of Puerto Rico, Sanoa Dempfle-Orin of Canada and Carol Bonelli of Brazil in the heats before overcoming Chileans Lorena Fica and Jessica Anderson.
She defeated Canada’s Mathea Olin in the semi-finals to book a finals showdown against Pellizzari.
“I am still happy to be bringing the silver back to Barbados. I hope that my performance will inspire other Caribbean athletes to believe in themselves and fight for their dreams,” Tuach said.
“We may not have the resources of the bigger countries, but we have the ability to stand shoulder to shoulder with the best.”
Pellizzari, 30, defeated teammate Josefina Ane to advance to the final and was thrilled by her performance.
“This is an important victory for me and it still hasn’t settled in. I’m so happy and thankful to my team for all the support,” she said.
The men’s final was won by Alonso Correa of Peru, who defeated Maximiliano Cross from Chile in a close contest. (HG/PR)