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Wright claims Australia's first surfing medal with gutsy bronze

Olympics

Australian Owen Wright has beaten two-time Brazilian world champion Gabriel Medina for the bronze medal at surfing’s Olympics debut.

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Wright suffered a near-fatal head injury while surfing at Hawaii’s Pipeline in 2015 and a bronze caps his remarkable comeback.

He beat Medina in a nail-biting bronze medal match 11.97 to 11.77.

But fellow Australian Sally Fitzgibbons was in tears after a shock quarter-final loss to Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki put her out of medal contention.

She called it the toughest result of her career.

Wright had a narrow loss to Brazil’s 2019 world champion Italo Ferreira in the semi-finals at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach.

Konoa Igarashi joined Tsuzuki as Japanese giant-killers, executing a stunning aerial to down Medina in their semi-final and set up the gold medal match against Ferreira.

Wright slapped the water in frustration when he lost priority with three minutes left in the semi and Ferriera held on to win 13.17 to 12.47.

Tsuzuki used home beach advantage perfectly to down Fitzgibbons.

A 6.60 ride gave Tsuzuki the lead with less than 10 minutes left.

The Australian could not find the 7.10 wave score she needed and Tsuzuki won 13.27 to 11.67.

“To my family, I just want to say thanks so much,” a tearful Fitzgibbons told the Seven Network.

“I surfed every wave out there for you.”

Fitzgibbons said she badly wanted to perform better for her teammates and country.

“This hurts so bad, this one (is) the toughest loss of my career,” she said.

“My heart is just shattered.”

Wright beat Peruvian Lucca Mesinas 16.30 to 11.90 earlier on Tuesday in their quarter-final.

The men’s and women’s finals were moved forward by one day because of the conditions generated by tropical storm Nepartak.

Medina, the two-time world champion, looked in control of his semi-final heat against Igarashi.

But the Japanese star then unleashed his 540-degree mid-air rotation and looked as stunned as everyone else when he landed it perfectly.

The 9.33 wave score put him in control and he beat Medina 17.00 to 16.76.

Tsuzuki then had a narrow 8.33 to 7.43 loss to American favourite Carissa Moore in the semi-finals.

South African Bianca Buitendag, who eliminated Australian Stephanie Gilmore on Monday, claimed another big scalp in the other semi heat when she beat American Caroline Marks 11.00 to 3.67.

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