Longboard ace Esquivel punches World Games ticket
Jay-R Esquivel normally surfs from sun up to sun down in his hometown of San Juan in La Union, with only refreshments representing breaks from the grind.
Those countless hours of practice finally paid off after the Filipino surfing ace figured prominently against the best in the world following a historic copper medal show at the International Surfing Association World Longboard Championship in Surf City, El Salvador.
Not only did the 26-year-old put the country on the global surfing map, but the podium finish in the men’s individual longboard propelled Esquivel to a sure trip to the World Beach Games on Aug. 5 to Aug. 12 in Bali, Indonesia.
“I started surfing as young as six years old, but as I grew older, it has become a dream to compete internationally for our country,’’ Esquivel told the Inquirer during a get-together dinner for the national surfing squad organized by the United Philippine Surfing Association (Upsa) on Friday.
“This (World Beach Games) is by far the biggest event that I will participate in,’’ added Esquivel, a silver medalist in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Esquivel’s performance behind gold medalist Antoine Delpero of France, Brazil’s Carlos Bahia and bronze medalist Edouard Delpero of France helped tow the Philippines to fourth overall in the team standings after France, Brazil and Peru.
“Jay-R is No. 3 or No. 4 in the world. Not in Southeast Asia, not in Asia, but the world. He’s our EJ Obiena (of pole vault) in surfing,’’ said Upsa president Dr. Jose Raul Canlas.
Canlas said that longboard surfing will be in the 2024 Paris Olympics, but has been penciled in for the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games.
Veterans Daisy Valdez, Aping Agudo and Jomarie Ebueza helped Team PH in the rankings among 21 countries, including Australia, the United States and South Africa.
“I’m excited and I can’t wait to go back into the water. I have to give my all, an effort of at least 120 percent in training,’’ said Esquivel.