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Miraflores, Lima, Peru: - Local government authorities, event competitors, regional dignitaries and the ISA President gathered for the ISA World StandUp Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Championship official press conference today at the Miraflores Municipal Building. Panelists began discussing the excitement surrounding the event, and they eventually took on the bigger subject: getting SUP, Paddleboarding and Surfing into the Olympic Games.
"I think it's important to support the ISA and what they're beginning here in Peru, not just for ourselves but for our kids and for future generations," said Jamie Mitchell (AUS), the 10-time paddleboarding world champion and Team Australia Captain. "By the time they're in the Olympics, I'll probably be too old, maybe not, but people will be able to look back at guys like me or women like Brandi (Baksic, USA) who helped get it there."
"Not necessarily," interjected ISA President Fernando Aguerre, expressing optimism that the sport can and will be in the Olympics while Mitchell is still in his performance prime.
Following yesterday's dynamic Opening Ceremony on the streets of Miraflores, the press conference largely focused on the significance of the unique pairing of SUP and Paddleboarding in the same event in a world championship setting.
"StandUp Paddle and Paddleboarding are both sports with ancient roots that go back thousands of years, and to be able to bring them together for the first-ever sanctioned world championship is a special opportunity for the ISA," Aguerre said.
Dignitaries present to speak with the more than 50 press on hand were: ISA President Aguerre; Juan Jose Tan, Sports Committee Representative, Miraflores District; Ruben Gavino Sanchez, Alderman for the Municipality of Lima; Francisco Boza, President of the Peruvian Sports Committee; Hector Velarde, Peruvian Surf Legend; Guillermo Gonzales, President of FENTA, the Peruvian Surfing Federation; Karin Sierralta, Executive Director of FENTA; Jose Osterling, President of Club Waikiki, along with athlete representatives Mitchell, Baksic and Jose "Jarita" Gomez (PER).
"Club Waikiki and its founder (Carlos Dogny) were critical in the development of the sport in Peru, so we're proud to be part of this event," Osterling said. "Years ago this event was a dream, something we all talked about, and finally it became a reality."
The ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship is one that's been in the works for nearly two years.
"This event is the result of the hard work made by Club Waikiki and many other people," Velarde said. "We know that from now on the event can be held in other places, but we can feel proud of knowing that the first one will always have been held in Peru."
Aguerre recognized the exponential increase in popularity and knew that a pairing between SUP and Paddleboarding -- which was also lacking a true world championship event beyond the Molokai-to-Oahu race -- could work well.
"[SUP] has grown so much in just the last couple years, from what seemed like 30 people in California to thousands all over the state and many more around the world," said Baksic, who's regulary a top 5 finisher at SUP racing events. "This event is something that our sport has needed."
In total there will be 125 athletes from 17 countries on four continents represented: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Chile, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, USA and Venezuela.