South African surfing champion Bianca Buitendag, who this week won Silver at the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan, has dedicated her medal to her mother in a heartwarming and personal message on social media… as she bids farewell to professional surfing.
With the Olympics over, Bianca is bowing out of the competitive sport, after spending more than half of her 27 years competing internationally.
“That marks the end of a phenomenal chapter in my life. What a way to cross the finish line! The Olympics was the last time I put on that colorful contest rashie,” she wrote today.
The young surfer from Victoria Bay in the Western Cape first began surfing as a child, with her parents supporting her all the way. On her blog she revealed years ago: “my father was the one who pushed me into my first wave… My parents are the reason I have all these privileges today. They have been there before and after every heat with a hug of reassurance that they will be proud not matter the outcome.”
Tragically in March 2015, Bianca’s father, former provincial surfer Colin Buitendag, passed away at the age of 54.
Today, as she bows out of the sport, Bianca wrote:
“Ever since my father passed away, my life’s ambitions have changed drastically, and my heart quickly moved away from chasing heat scores. It has been over 5 years since, enough time to respect all the commitments I have made, to my beautiful country, myself and many others.
“The Olympics has coincidentally acted as the perfect opportunity for closure. I will, however, never stop rushing towards saltwater at every opportunity. The sea is my therapy, the place I feel closest to heaven.
“I want to thank each and every one who has shared in this ‘colourful’ season with me over the last decade. I have had one hell of a ride, of which it is the life long friendships that I cherish most. It was all worth it, only for knowing you.
“Most importantly – although I like to believe that I’m tough and independent, I want to acknowledge my Heavenly Father, who has held my hand tightly through all these years – through the dark and scary. He has been my best friend, my closest companion.
“Ever since my first contest at 8 years old, my last sentence before every heat has been, ‘Father, I trust you, have your way.’ After all these years, I can confidently stand knowing that His will did, indeed, prevail.
“This medal goes out to my mom, who beat two cancers in one year – and to those who fight for the daily victories no one sees. You deserve silver and gold, not me.”
Along with the Olympics, Bianca tagged her mom, Yvette Buitendag. Over 650 messages have already poured in since her post on Wednesday morning, all thanking Bianca for always flying the flag high for South Africa, and wishing her the best as she now turns her attention to property development.
After constantly travelling the world to compete, Bianca told Team SA, that the Covid Lockdown “made me realise how important home is”. She’s ready to put down her roots back in Victoria Bay.
“It’s a beautiful part of the world and one that you never get tired of. I am looking forward to my next career where I’m getting involved in property development. There are such beautiful spots and I just love the area between Wilderness and Mossel Bay,” she says.