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Native Hawaiians "reclaim" surfing with Moore's Olympic Gold

Her mother -- crowned the Honolulu Lei Queen in 2016 -- had given her the flower hair clip before she left for Tokyo to remind the only Native Hawaiian Olympic surfer of where she came from.

Moore, still disbelieving, is compared to Duke Kahanamoku at this pinnacle. He is a legend in surfing and is honored in Hawaii with a cherished memorial.

Moore grinned from ear to, while her body moved into a quiet giggle at Moore's suggestion. "Gosh, I don't think there are many people in Hawaii who deserve it."

She is as beloved at home as she was by her peers and fans around the globe, but it was a modest statement from one the greatest surfers in the world after winning gold in the inaugural Olympic competition.

Moore, a meticulous surfer, found her rhythm with nature to deliver the type of power-surfing performance that has defined the rest of her career. The picture-perfect ending even included a rainbow that popped into the sky as she shredded waves in the final against South African rival Bianca Buitendag.

Moore is now a realization Kahanamoku’s dream. He is both the symbol of the sport’s best and a validating force in an Indigenous community still struggling with its complicated history.

Kuhio Lewis is the president of Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. This organization hosts the largest annual gathering of Native Hawaiians.

Lewis stated that all of the locals he knew were sending each other messages during the competition. They were glued to TV and feeling elated by Moore's win. It was a "come home moment" for a community which may never be reconciled.

After several centuries of colonization by European settlers, Hawaii was annexed in 1898 by the United States. This followed the overthrow by U.S.-backed forces of 1893 of the Hawaiian monarchy.

"Sometimes, we can be invisible. We are often lumped with other ethnic groups. Other groups are defining our sport. Lewis stated that this puts the matter in perspective. It feels like a new people emerging from a community of native people that was previously invisible to many.

Moore was the Tokyo Games' medal favorite and was also competing for the United States. Moore had previously sailed for Hawaii in the World Surf League's professional surf, and it is now recognized as a "sovereign" surfing nation.

Moore is bi-racial. She was born in the United States' only state with a majority of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Moore learned surfing from her white father of Irish and German heritage. Her mother, who is Filipino-ethnic and Hawaiian by birth, was raised in a Chinese family.

Moore stated, "I am proud to represent the USA, but especially the islands of Hawaii, because there are so many different types of people there and I feel like such an attachment to all of them." Moore said, "And without the community that has really raised me, I wouldn't have been where I am today."

U.S. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, Hawaii, this week honored Moore and Kahanamoku at the Senate Floor.

Schatz stated that Carissa is the best surfer because she has the most fun. "She is a fierce competitor, who wants every event she wins, but she also wants to see her competitors succeed -- and the sport of surfing as a whole --

Kahanamoku, an Olympic swimmer who won five medals, was one of the first to break the sports' color barrier. He first advocated for surfing to be included in the International Olympic Committee's 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm. However, surfing was not widely known outside of Hawaii.

The most well-known son of Hawaii, Kahanamoku, dedicated his life to surfing and the promotion of his country. He is best known for introducing the sport through exhibitions across America, Australia, New Jersey, and Europe. Kahanamoku was the ultimate waterman. His legacy included popularizing the flutter swimming kicks, and the idea of water rescue and lifeguarding to the masses. He was also a Hollywood movie star and Honolulu sheriff.

Moore was still a formidable athlete in her sport a century later. At age 18, she was the youngest ever champion. Today, she holds four world titles and is the first Olympic gold medalist. She's also recruiting young girls to take up a sport that once very much prioritized men, and has spoken publicly about her struggles with body image and disordered eating as a teenager.

Moore is proud to represent the new global platform and hopes to spread positivity like her idol.

Moore stated that it was Moore's dream to surf in the Olympics. Moore said, "I hope that I made him proud and my people proud."

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