|O’Leary Celebrates Connection To His Japanese Heritage with Updated Jersey
Connor O’Leary (AUS) narrowly escaped elimination in the final heat of the men’s Elimination Round, dispatching CT rookie Matthew McGillivray (ZAF). O’Leary and Michel Bourez (FRA) now advance to the Round of 32 where they will face Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Griffin Colapinto (USA), respectively.
Throughout his heats in Newcastle, O’Leary has sported a jersey with dual flags: Australia, representative of his home country, and Japan, representing his Japanese heritage. The Japanese flag is also a tribute to his mother, Akemi, who passed a love of competitive surfing down to her son alongside the knowledge and appreciation of his Japanese heritage.
“My mum is Japanese and I have a deep connection to the culture, country, and its people – especially the fans in Japan,” said O’Leary. “Australia will always be the country I represent because I have grown up here and lived here my whole life, but the other half of me is Japanese.”
The gesture of the dual flags is just one way to show how proud he is of his Japanese heritage.
“My mum has a huge surfing background, she used to compete back in the day when she was in her 20s and 30s at a professional level. Dad also surfed, but not competitively,” continued O’Leary. “It hopefully inspires a lot of young Japanese athletes. The sky is the limit.”