Stephanie Gilmore is widely considered the most stylish female surfer of all-time.

But when it comes to winning Olympic gold medals in Tokyo, poetry on the water and effortless grace isn't how Gilmore wants the rest of the world to view the Australian surfing team.

"This Australian team will be one of the best teams at the Olympics and to win, we'll have to be deadly in the water,'' Gilmore said.

Which is why after months of deliberation, Gilmore and every team member who represents Australia from now on will be identified as the Irukandji.

 

Champion surfer Stephanie Gilmore unveils the national surf team's new identity, the Irukandji, at Snapper Rocks in Queensland. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.
Champion surfer Stephanie Gilmore unveils the national surf team's new identity, the Irukandji, at Snapper Rocks in Queensland. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

Irukandji is the most venomous species of box jellyfish in the world.

And just like the Australian Olympic swimming team are the Dolphins and hockey's equivalent the Hockeyroos, the Australian surfing team will unite under team colours and an identity.

It was Gilmore who decided on the name 'Irukandji' after months of consultation with fellow Olympic team members Sally Fitzgibbons and Julian Wilson.

"We wanted something that gives us some drive and determination every time we paddle out into a heat at the Olympics," the seven-time world champion said.

"I went through a few ideas with my friends at home and we (surfers) were sending names to each other.

"We had some other great names, but it was actually quite difficult, because a lot of them were already taken by other sports.

 

Small but deadly – an Irukandji jellyfish inside a water bottle. Picture: Olivia Rowley/Tropical Australian Stinger Research Unit
Small but deadly – an Irukandji jellyfish inside a water bottle. Picture: Olivia Rowley/Tropical Australian Stinger Research Unit

"I was thinking about the box jellyfish and thinking about names that could also have a connection to indigenous Australian names and the box jellyfish is also known as the Irukandji.

"We had some other names, but I thought they were a bit dorky. I wanted something with a bit more bite to it, a little more punch.

"The box jellyfish are renowned as deadly in the water, so we thought that we would be an awesome tagline for us when we're competing.''

Surfing will make its debut as a sport at the Olympics in Tokyo in July.

Gilmore, who is chasing an Olympic gold medal and an unprecedented eighth world title this year, said that despite conjecture surrounding the running of the games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she is refusing to have her focus derailed.

 

Gilmore in action. Picture: Matt Dunbar/WSL via Getty Images
Gilmore in action. Picture: Matt Dunbar/WSL via Getty Images

"I don't want to take the foot off the gas, thinking the Olympics won't be on and then be caught off guard, when it is on,'' Gilmore said.

"I've got a lot of Japanese friends that I talk to about what they think and their feelings, so I think they will push forward.

"I just think it will be a real stripped back Olympics. I can't imagine there'll be tickets for fans and we'll probably just fly in for our events and then fly out.

"Nevertheless, it's still the Olympics and I don't want to not hold it in a really high regard, even though it will be a bit different.''

Gilmore will unveil the national team's new identity alongside Fitzgibbons and Wilson at an official Surfing Australia launch at Manly on Wednesday.

Originally published as Revealed: Aussie surfing's deadly new look


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