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Feature Photo: San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino negotiates the drop at Pipeline during the recent Billabong Pipe Masters. Photo: Courtesy of Cestari/WSL

By Shawn Raymundo

San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino will sit out the next four stops of the World Surf League’s Championship Tour in Australia after aggravating a high ankle sprain he initially sustained in February.

According to a March 23 announcement from the WSL, Andino, an Olympic gold medal hopeful for Team USA in this year’s Summer Games in Japan, reinjured his ankle earlier this week after clearing the mandatory two-week hotel quarantine in Australia.

“Sorry to have to message this today, but I’m officially withdrawing from the four-event Australian leg of the WSL Championship Tour,” Andino said in a prepared statement ahead of the four events in Newcastle, Narrabeen, Margaret River and Rottnest Island.

Andino further explained that he had suffered the ankle sprain while training in Hawaii during the Valentine’s Day swell last month. He added that he was hoping the injury would have healed in time for the Australian events.

“Unfortunately, in the first few days of testing after quarantine, I reinjured it, and, after consulting with my doctors in the U.S., I’ve made the decision to withdraw and get ready for the post-Australia events,” said Andino, who had been considered a strong contender in this year’s Championship Tour events.

“It’s a hard one to deal with, but I appreciate everyone’s support, and I’ll look to get back in the water as soon as possible,” he added. “Good luck to everyone competing in Australia. I’ll be watching.”

Matt Banting, who currently ranks highest on the Australia/Oceania Qualifying Series, will replace Andino in the Newcastle event, according to the WSL.

The sport of surfing will make its Olympics debut in Tokyo this coming July after being postponed by the pandemic last year. During the Games, Andino will be joined by fellow male qualifier John John Florence of Hawaii and female qualifiers Carissa Moore, also of Hawaii, and fellow San Clemente surfer Caroline Marks.

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