Surfers representing Australia at this year’s Olympics will go by the name of the Irukandjis, the highly venomous jellyfish, after the national team’s new identity was revealed on Wednesday.
Led by Stephanie Gilmore, the Olympic surf team collaborated on the name, which will also cover other genres of representative surfing including juniors, seniors, longboard, big wave and stand up paddleboarding.
It follows similarly marine life-inspired national team names such as the Dolphins, Sharks and Stingers.
The jellyfish are named after Irrukandji country, a narrow strip of land on the Queensland coast between Cairns and Port Douglas, and the local Yirrganydji people gave their blessing to Surfing Australia to use the name.
Indigenous surfer Soli Bailey, a former world tour competitor who is now back in the qualifying series, was one of the key drivers behind the campaign, while the likes of Sally Fitzgibbons and Julian Wilson will compete at the inaugural Olympic event in Japan later this year under the new branding.
The tiny Irukandji – which measures just one cubic centimetre – is a species of box jellyfish found in the northern waters of Australia. Its sting causes symptoms that may lead to death.
“I really wanted us to find an awesome name for the team that incorporated the Indigenous culture of Australia,” seven-time WSL champion Gilmore said. “Irukandji perfectly suits our team as we try our best to be ‘deadly in the water’ against our rivals in the Tokyo Olympics.”
The new-look team branding and uniforms were developed in conjunction with Indigenous artist Jasmine Craciun, who derived inspiration from her ancestors, the Barkindji people.
“The organic shapes on the uniform represent fluid movement within the water and emulate light hitting the ocean when viewed from below,” a Surfing Australia statement read.
Australia has a strong Indigenous surfing culture, and Shakira Westdorp, the four times world champion, is considered to be the one of the greatest women’s SUP athletes of all time.
While Bailey was the last Indigenous surfer to compete at the highest level on the World Tour in 2019, there are a number of promising juniors coming through the ranks.
“Our name and identity are powerful forces,” said Surfing Australia chair and seven-time world champion Layne Beachley. “As surfing enters the Olympics for the first time and enjoys incredible popularity worldwide, it was time to give our Australian team an identity that we can all rally behind.”
Surfing is the appearing at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for July and August this year, for the first time.