Seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore spearheads Australia's Olympic surf team

Sydney (AFP) - Seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore and current world number two Sally Fitzgibbons spearhead a powerhouse Australian team announced Friday gunning for gold on the sport’s Olympic debut in Tokyo.

They are joined on the men’s side by multiple World Surf League (WSL) tour winners Julian Wilson and Owen Wright as they look to shine a spotlight on their profession.

“Seeing surfing in the Olympics will hopefully let up-and-coming junior surfers realise a new dream that they can go out there and hopefully win a medal for the country,” said Gilmore.

“Now we’re competing as a team, if anything it will push us to even greater success, to support each other and have that on the world stage.”

Fitzgibbons heads into the event at Tsurigasaki Beach in Chiba, east of Tokyo, on a hot streak of form.

She won the most recent WSL tour event at Rottnest Island in Western Australia then claimed victory at ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador this month.

“I used to draw the Olympic rings on myself back in school – to have the rings on my shirt now, to have it legit is so cool,” she said.

“It’s been a long journey but being there in Tokyo will feel all the more special. I’m going to give it my all, I want to compete for my country, fly that flag and hopefully come home with a gold medal.”

Australia’s surfing team named themselves “The Irukandjis”, after a deadly species of jellyfish that menaces the country’s tropical northern waters.

Surfing will make its Olympic debut in Japan as part of efforts to attract a younger audience to watch the Games.