Pauline Ado (FRA), 17, has just made ASP history as the first non-Australian female to claim the undisputed ASP Junior World Title, defeating opponent Bethany Hamilton (HAW), 18, in a hard-fought Final at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.
Clean three-to-four foot (1 metre) waves were on offer at Sydney’s legendary North Narrabeen beach today, and after completing Round 3 of the men’s division, the dramatic women’s action commenced with the Quarterfinals before culminating with the crowning of Ado as the newest ASP World Junior Champion.
“I’m speechless,” Ado said. “I am so stoked. This is a dream come true. I can’t believe that I won. When I woke up this morning, I never imagined that this would happen.”
While her opponent Hamilton exhibited patience throughout the day, Ado wasted no time in busying herself on both the lefts and rights in the Final, and although the lead flipped back-and-forth, it was the young Frenchwoman who sealed the deal with a solid 13.43 out of a possible 20.
“I didn’t watch Bethany on her last wave, but I could hear the crowd and the commentators in the background,” Ado said. “I thought she had won, but luckily for me, it wasn’t the case.”
Ado now joins the prestigious ranks of past ASP World Junior Champions Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), 22, Nicola Atherton (AUS), 22, and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 18 – all three past champions qualifying for the prestigious ASP Women’s World Tour within one season of claiming the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.
“I have so much confidence now going into 2009,” Ado said. “I really want to do well in the ASP WQS and hopefully qualify for the ASP Women’s World Tour, but for now, I’m just stoked to be ASP World Junior Champion.”
In addition to being crowned ASP World Junior Champion, Ado will also receive a guaranteed seed into the second-to-last seeded round of all ASP WQS events in 2009, giving the young natural-footer a great advantage as she vies for a position on the elite ASP Women’s World Tour in 2010.
Hamilton, who suffered the loss of her left arm during a Tiger Shark attack at home in Kauai in 2003, put in an inspirational performance today, besting heavy event favorites Laura Enever (AUS), 17, and Leila Hurst (HAW), 16, before falling short to Ado in the Final.
“I’m really happy with my performance at this event,” Hamilton said. “To make the Final is really good for me. I haven’t had a good result in a while so hopefully this will give me some confidence for the rest of the year. I think my nerves got the better of me in the Final. I should’ve made a couple of turns where I fell. I’m kind of bummed about that last wave, but I guess that’s surfing.”
Courtney Conlogue (USA), 16, was in sensational form today, netting the event high heat total of an 18.23 out of a possible 20 in the Quarterfinals to dispatch of 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie Paige Hareb (NZL), 18, before losing out to Ado in the Semifinals.
“I’m bummed, but when you look at it, it’s a great result even though I got the same as last year,” Conlogue said. “I’m happy with my result. It’s a great start to the year, but the Final would have been even better. Hopefully now I can follow through and have a strong year.”
Hurst joined Conlogue in their equal 3rd place finishes at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships, and the young Hawaiian is looking forward to year of competition as she aims for a shot at the prestigious ASP Women’s World Tour.
“This year will be a big year doing all the ASP Pro Junior events and some ASP WQS events,” Hurst said. “I just got knocked in the last minutes when Bethany (Hamilton) got a 6, but it’s a great start to the year. This is my best result here at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships after three years.”