Billy Stairmand secured New Zealand's best ever result of eighth at the ISA World Surfing Games yesterday, which helped the New Zealand Team to finish seventh overall.
Stairmand's performance and the team result round out a big week of surfing for New Zealand with two surfers provisionally qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The seventh place finish also ensures New Zealand qualify for the 2020 Aloha Cup which is contested against the top eight nations at the World Surfing Games.
A total of 55 nations and 240 surfers competed at the event held in Miyazaki, Japan.
"It's been a crazy week. It is all kind of a blur, surfing a lot of heats everyday" said Stairmand as he was packing and heading to the airport.
"But now it's all starting to sink in, sitting down and saying that I can become an Olympian is such a crazy feeling. And also getting the best result ever for a Kiwi and holding down the fort for the team to get seventh is pretty cool also" added Stairmand whose next event starts in the Aores Islands on Tuesday.
Stairmand automatically advanced out of his first match up today after Brazilian Filipe Toledo pulled out due to injury. In his second match up, Stairmand pushed right through the heat with a fall on his last wave the difference between moving through to the top six and a chance at qualifying for the final.
"I'm kicking myself that I didn't land that floater, it was a big section but I knew I had to give it my all and I did, I gave it everything I had but that heat just wasn't meant to be. But I'm so proud of myself and my achievements this week. It's been so fun" Stairmand said.
Stairmand has had an exceptional year of results that started with a National Championship in January followed by a World Qualifying Series win in Australia in May among other top results.
"Yeah my boards have been a huge factor in my performances this year but also I think I've totally changed my frame of mind this year and it's helped not only in this event but others. So I'm just sticking with it.
"I've been working with a friend of mine Albee James from Bodyrehab and he's helped me a lot with the mental side of things. Also changed a bit in my lifestyle stuff. So I've made some changes in my life and it's paying off" said Stairmand who heads straight back to Europe to contest a QS6,000 event in the Azores next week.