Tokyo Olympics 2021: American surfer Carissa Moore takes home gold in sport's debut

Surfing made its Tokyo Olympics debut and handed out medals in the women's and men's events

American Carissa Moore made history Tuesday when she won a gold medal in Olympic surfing.

Moore won the women’s shortboard event in the sport’s Olympics debut. South Africa’s Bianca Buitendag won silver and Japan’s Amuro Tsuzuki won bronze.

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Moore was in tears holding the American flag as she celebrated the gold medal victory. The 28-year-old Honolulu native came into the Olympics as one of the favorites to win gold.

She defeated Silvana Lima in the first quarterfinals matchup, 14.26-8.30. She then defeated Tsuzuki, 8.33-7.43. in the semifinals. Moore would then edge Buitendag, 14.93-8.46.

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Carissa Moore, of the United States, celebrates winning the gold medal of the women's surfing competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, at Tsurigasaki beach in Ichinomiya, Japan. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Carissa Moore, of the United States, celebrates winning the gold medal of the women's surfing competition at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 27, 2021, at Tsurigasaki beach in Ichinomiya, Japan. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The competitors were scored on "key elements of commitment and degree of difficulty, innovative and progressive maneuvers, combinations of major maneuvers, variety of maneuvers, and speed, power and flow," according to the Olympics website.

The child surfing prodigy was the youngest world champion surfer at 18. She began surfing when she was just 5 years old and started to compete at the NSSA junior surf competitions at age 11. She won the Triple Crown of Surfing at age 16. She was the youngest surfer to win a surfing world title at 18.

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She was world champion on the ASP Women’s World Tour in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.