Local surfers bring home silver at World Junior Championships


POSTED: Thursday, April 09, 2009

It was Ecuador, not Beijing, but it was still the Olympics as far as Keanu Asing was concerned. The 15-year-old from Ewa Beach earned gold in the highly competitive Under-16 division and helped Hawaii take the team silver at last weekend's Quiksliver International Surfing Association World Junior Surfing Championship in Salinas, Ecuador.

“;I never won a contest this big and been a world champ,”; Asing, a sophomore at Elite Academy, said. “;This was definitely a dream come true and I don't even remember the final. It seems like a blur.”;

Perhaps that's because his final came down to the wire with Asing edging Brazil's Gabriel Mendina in the 2-to 4-foot surf. Asing's two-wave total of 17.54 bested Mendina's 17.38—with only 0.16 of a point separating first from second in what the ISA press release said was the most talented division at this year's event.

Australian captured the team gold medal, Brazil the bronze and Team USA fourth. Team Hawaii led the overall standings for most of the event, narrowly missing out on first.

Other notable performances by Team Hawaii were Kauai's Dylan Goodale fourth-place finish in the Under-18 boys and a bronze medal by Ewa Beach's Aleesa Quizon in Under-18 girls.

The waves off Salinas break in a similar way to Kewalo Basin, Asing's home break. Coupled with the warm South American water, the venue of the ISA World Championship helped Asing feel more comfortable in heats.

Although the familiar feeling of the surf helped, Asing said his victory was a result of a tireless work ethic and training.

“;It felt like hard work finally just paid off,”; Asing said about his gold medal. “;I've been training for the past couple of months, twice a week (with David Moore).”;

Asing also attributes his and Team Hawaii's success at to the coaching staff and the financial backing of Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu and Verizon Wireless. Verizon stepped up the most by paying for all of Team Hawaii's airfares and hotel accommodations, allowing competitors and coaches to focus on winning rather than fundraising.

It has been four years since Hawaii captured first place at this event. Yet Asing said he and his teammates were extremely proud of their overall performance in Ecuador.

“;I'm pretty sure Team Hawaii opened the eyes of a lot of guys as a team to watch out for,”; Asing said. “;Everyone [on Team Hawaii] was surfing really good.”;