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Last Updated: Monday, 5 March 2007, 12:57 GMT
Aborigine makes splash in surfing
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Dale Richards. Picture credit: ASP@Covered Images
Dale Richards said he hoped to inspire other Aboriginal youngsters
A teenage surfer from Queensland has become the first Aboriginal Australian to qualify for the main round of a world championship tour event.

Dale Richards, 19, qualified for the Quicksilver Pro on the Gold Coast, though he was beaten at the weekend.

The young surfer now wants to become the first indigenous world champion.

He said he felt "very privileged and proud" to be the first Aboriginal Australian to make it into surfing's big league.

Dale Richards had been competing in the opening event of the new World Championship Tour season at Snapper Rocks on Queensland's Gold Coast near Brisbane.

He was rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the sport.

His fairytale run on the Gold Coast came to an end with defeat against the American Kelly Slater, who has won the world championship eight times.

Sporting pride

The 19-year-old Australian said he hoped his adventure among surfing's elite would inspire other young Aborigines.

Indigenous athletes have excelled in many other sports, most notably boxing, rugby and Australian Rules Football.

There have been other talented Aboriginal surfers, but none has earned the right to take on the best in the business.

Seasoned observers believe that Dale Richards has a special ability to make difficult manoeuvres look simple.

Add to that his passion and dedication and it is easy to see why the teenager is expected to achieve great things in the years ahead.

Australia's Aborigines are by far the most disadvantaged group in the country.

Success in the sporting arena has become a source of immense pride for the indigenous community.

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