Gilmore driven to win record eighth title

Melissa WoodsAAP
Australia's Stephanie Gilmore is gunning for an eighth world title in the WSL finals in California
Camera IconAustralia's Stephanie Gilmore is gunning for an eighth world title in the WSL finals in California Credit: AAP

Olympics disappointment has stoked a fire in Stephanie Gilmore as she prepares to hunt a record-breaking eighth world title at the World Surf League finals in San Diego.

Under a new format the top five female and top five male surfers from the tour will square off at Lower Trestles in one epic day of competition that will decide this year's world champions.

It will be held during a window from September 9-12, when a big swell is forecast for the famed beach break.

Gilmore qualified fourth into the final, one below fellow Olympian Sally Fitzgibbons while fellow Australian Morgan Cibilic grabbed the last spot in the men's final in his rookie season.

Gilmore is currently level with countrywoman Layne Beachley on seven world titles - her last won in 2018 - and told AAP that her shock third-round exit from the Tokyo Olympics had got her competitive juices flowing as she seeks a history-making eighth.

"I'm definitely competitive so that's a goal - I've always wanted to win the most," the 33-year-old said.

"I've had some time now where I haven't won a title and have been pretty relaxed.

"But after losing in the Olympics so early I think it really kicked me into a drive of ... wow, that hurt really bad to lose early.

"It was a good thing because it made me realise how much I still want to win and still want to do it so yes I'm heading into this event with great determination to try to win an eighth."

Gilmore put that reinforced determination straight into use in the next tour event, winning at Mexico's Barra De La Cruz last month.

She said she initially wasn't sure about the new finals format, with the champion traditionally decided on an accumulation of points won through the year.

"I've changed my mind over time - I wasn't too keen on it in the beginning because I thought the world champion should be decided across multiple different waves all year long.

"Now that I'm coming in from fourth position, when I wouldn't have been able to win the title any other year, I'm like, it's not too bad," she laughed.

"It's new territory, a historical moment for our sport, so I'm sure it will be entertaining to say the least.

"It's an exciting way to finish the year."

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