US surfers Griffin Colapinto, John John Florence feeling patriotic before Olympics: 'Being a proud American'

Griffin Colapinto and John John Florence might not be with their fellow United States Olympians in Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics, but their pride to represent the country will be on full display in the waters of Tahiti. 

The surfing competition for both men and women will be held in Teahupo’o, Tahiti, French Polynesia. Colapinto and Florence are there with the World Surf League for its latest event, and they’re taking note of the swell, breaks and everything else in the water, knowing they will be competing for Olympic medals later this year. 

For Florence, this will be his second Olympics representing the U.S., after competing in Japan in 2021. He’s not only stoked to be wearing the American flag on his suit again. He’s also excited to represent Hawaii, his home he knows has so much history attached to the Olympics.

“I think representing your country and representing the place you’re from — me being from Hawaii, which is the epicenter of surfing,” he told Fox News Digital of why he’s excited ahead of the Shiseido Tahiti Pro event in the WSL. 

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“And there’s so much history with the Olympics and Hawaii, having ‘The Duke’ (Duke Kahanamoku) being a gold medalist in swimming and kinda being the grandfather of surfing. There’s a lot of meaning and a lot of power behind it. I definitely love to represent the place that I come from, the place that raised me and supported me. Everything from growing up to where I am today. 

“Being able to represent Hawaii, the U.S. and surfing for all of them with the biggest waves [in Tahiti]. If it’s really big, it’ll be really cool.”

Colapinto, who ranks No. 1 in the world on the WSL tour, qualified for his first-ever Olympic Games last year when he finished second. 

US OLYMPIC SURFERS GRIFFIN COLAPINTO, JOHN JOHN FLORENCE KEEPING CLOSE EYE ON TAHITI SWELL DURING WSL EVENT

The 25-year-old from San Clemente, California, had a simple answer when asked why this honor of surfing for the United States means so much to him. 

“To me, it means just being a proud American,” Colapinto explained. “Just being proud of America and coming from a country that has so many rad people and a lot of entrepreneurs and people creating their own life for themselves. Big dreams and being able to create your own life — that’s what America represents. So, I’m super proud of being able to represent the U.S. 

“It’s arguably one of the best countries ever. It’s exciting.”

Anyone’s first Olympics is bound to bring nerves, but when you ask Colapinto how he’s feeling a couple months away from having that pressure, he’s as cool as the waves he surfs in. That’s because his process of performing on the world’s biggest stages revolves around not putting too much pressure on himself.

“I don’t really add too much pressure to myself with the Olympics,” he said. “It’s just, to me, an opportunity to get the icing on top of the cake, really.”

Florence admitted his first Olympics was “definitely scary,” because he said people were “building it up like it’s this bigger-than-life event.” While acknowledging representing his country is a major honor, he also knows he must take a step back and go through his normal routine to make sure he finishes better than ninth place like he did in Japan. 

“It’s also just another surf event. That’s the thing I learned the most when I went there. You’re still surfing a 30-minute heat,” Florence said. “You’re still surfing against two or three guys in the water with you. I think that’s what I took from it. I don’t have to overthink this, and I’m surfing in another event here. Simplifying as much as possible.”

Florence also said while the competition is top of mind, he loves the “camaraderie” built throughout the weeks leading up to the main event. 

“Training and things like that, it’s really fun. It builds these new relationships,” he said. “Last time, I got to do it with Kolohe [Andino], Carissa [Moore] and Caroline [Marks]. Having the team we have this year, it’s so fun to hang with these surfers, get to know them better. Train, surf and hang out with them.”

Moore and Marks will once again be representing the U.S. in the women’s surfing event. 

Florence won’t be giving Colapinto any pointers this week since they’re both trying to win the event in Tahiti. But when they return, they’ll be teammates and ready to achieve greatness for their country.

That greatness only has one color in Florence’s eyes. 

“To win the gold medal,” Florence said, smiling. 

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