Soli Bailey ready to represent country and heritage
12 July 2019
NAIDOC WEEK: Indigenous Australian surfer Soli Bailey is currently chasing Olympic dreams. With surfing making its debut at Tokyo 2020, the 23-year-old is vying for a spot on the biggest stage of them all, but representing his country is just the tip of the iceberg, with Bailey competing for something bigger than himself.
"This year I'll be representing the Indigenous flag on one shoulder and the Australian flag on the other. It's really special for my heritage, family, friends and every Indigenous Australian from my country, so it will be really exciting," Bailey said.
The New South Welshman’s connection to his Aboriginal roots has always been something he has embraced, with the Byron Bay local saying he is proud to have the opportunity to showcase his heritage while doing what he loves.
"It's a really awesome opportunity to wear the flag on my uniform and I think it’s really special that the World Surf League have gotten behind me with it and supported me on it,” Bailey said. “Honestly, it’s a dream come true.”
Bailey is also eager to have the opportunity to motivate the next generation of young Aboriginal surfers.
"I really hope that Indigenous kids get inspired, excited and start striving for their biggest goals when they see the Indigenous flag for the first time.
“Iwant them to feel both happy and proud to be an Indigenous Australian," he continued.
Bailey is not the first Indigenous athlete to have an impact in the realm of Australian sport, with the country boasting 52 Indigenous Olympians.
The Aboriginal athlete admires Cathy Freeman’s iconic impact on the Indigenous Australian community, recalling her Sydney 2000 gold medal winning race.
“That was a special moment for every Australian,” Bailey said in regards to the classic photo of Freeman holding up both the Australian and Indigenous flags at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Bailey is currently participating in the Men’s Championship Tour as the second ever Indigenous Australian to compete.
He recently finished thePro Gold Coast tournament in 17th place, which is a huge success considering this is the first year that he has qualified for the Championship Tour.
Withexcitement building towards surfing’s Olympic debut in just over one year, Bailey’s performances are particularly significant to both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike.
Bailey is hoping that he will have what it takes to qualify and potentially earn a place on Australia’s first Olympic surfing team.
"It would be a dream come true to be one the first surfers to attend the Olympics,”
“To be Australian heading to the Olympics and to join that legacy, everything about it is just really special and really exciting.
“At this point it’s just focusing on what need do to do, step by step with our heads down pushing as hard as we can to get there.”