Local bodyboarding champions Ali Khushruwan and Ali Javed secured first and second place respectively in the bodyboard open division of the annual Tioman Surf Festival held from January 31 till February 2.
Additionally, Ahmed Agil managed a quarter-final placement in the Shortboard category of the event while Ibrahim Ayaz could not move past the second round.
A Maldivian team consisting of various disciplines of waveriding, including bodyboard and shortboard, participate in the Malaysia-hosted festival each year, with Maldives consistently achieving podium finishes in the bodyboarding division for the past six years.
This is the third instance where Khushruwan achieved first place at the competition. Likewise, Javed has numerous podium finishes to his name at Tioman, including first place in 2014.
2014: Ali Javed - First | Ali Khushruwan - Second | Ihusan Mohamed - Third
2015: Ali Khushruwan - First | Ali Javed - Third
2016: Ali Khushruwan - First | Ali Javed - Third
2019: Ali Khushruwan - First place | Ali Javed - Second
A team representing Maldives has participated in every Tioman Surf Festival since 2014, except for the 2017 and 2018 instalments.
Although surfing is regarded as generally underfunded in Maldives, the sport continues to bring in numerous top level finishes in international level competitions, bagging the most amount of gold medals for the country.
Ali Khushruwan, Aswan Mohamed and Ali Javed secured first, second and third place respectively in the Quicksilver Cherating International Surfing Competition in 2016 at Malaysia.
In addition to various other competitions, Ali Khushruwan achieved first in major surfing competitions held in Australia and is a recipient of the National Sports Award in 2012.
Surfing is also an important sector for the tourism industry, as it is the only sport that generates revenue for the country.
Efforts are underway by the Maldives Surfing Association and Olympics Committee to train and send athletes to take part in the 2020 Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan.
The closing of legendary surf spot 'Raalhugandu' of capital Male in 2016 hindered the training of professional athletes for two years, until the Sinamale Bridge was completed and opened in September 2018.
Local surfers claim that the bridge caused irreplaceable damages and various negative changes to what is considered the "proving grounds" for Maldivian surfers.