Yolanda Hopkins Sequeira has just won a place in the Olympic debut of Surfing in Tokyo, by passing the qualifying final of the World Surfing Games this weekend, in El Salvador.
With the qualification for the final, Yolanda Hopkins Sequeira guarantees her place in the top 7 of this event, the most important in the race to Tokyo, and automatically the Olympic qualification.
This year marks the International Surfing Association's debut in the Olympic program, which takes place from July 23rd to August 8th, 2021.
Yolanda is the daughter of a British mother and Portuguese father, who was born in Faro and has always lived in Portugal.
She is known in the surfing world as Hopkins and only started using the name Sequeira in Portugal two years ago, because everyone thought she was a foreigner.
Because the waves on the south coast of the Algarve, according to her, “are not constant and the variety is minimal” she trains in the Sines area, where her English coach has a surfing camp and where “there are all kinds of waves I can find in any championship: rock waves, tube waves, soft waves, hard waves, beach breaks, reef breaks, everything”.
Yolanda is a surfer who goes to sea every day. “It doesn't matter if there are waves of 10 meters or 20 centimeters. I always find a place to surf. Furthermore, a professional surfer's training is not just in the water. We also have physical and psychological training, which of course is out of the water”.
Yolanda was at her best when covid appeared and stopped her in her tracks. “I ended 2019 very well, I had been national champion and had just won one of the first world championships. I started 2020 with a lot of very good performances in Australia and China. I got to be in the worlds top 8 surfers, when we have to be in the top 6 to qualify. It was almost there!”
There was a championship in Australia that went wrong and brought her from 8th to 26th place. She went straight to a 10,000 championship in New Zealand, "I was prepared and very focused on 'surfing my surf'. It felt good. However, the event was canceled the day before the scheduled start date, because of the covid outbreak. "I was trying to qualify for the Olympic Games in 2020, but everything was stopped."
However, Yolanda was training and was preparing for when the opportunity arose. And now, at the World Championship in El Salvador, she qualified to represent Portugal at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
This is the first time an Algarvian athlete has been at the Olympic Games in the surf category.
Original article available in Portuguese at http://postal.pt/