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Mar. 10, 2015 - Updated 04:16 UTC

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Surfer girl riding the wave

Jun. 2, 2017

The sport of surfing will be added to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. In competitions, surfers are judged by their speed, the difficulty of their moves and other factors. One of Japan's hopefuls is a teenager originally from the tsunami disaster zone in the country's northeast.

Thirteen-year-old Kana Nakashio is known for her speed, control, and power. She is the top-ranked female surfer in Japan.

She lives in the town of Ichinomiya, about an hour’s drive from Tokyo and surfs here every day.

Each year, about 300,000 surfers visit the area from all over the country.

Swells from the Pacific Ocean directly hit the shallow coast here, creating good surfing conditions year-round.

Ichinomiya has been chosen as the site for all the surfing events at the Tokyo Olympics.

Kana was born in the city of Sendai, in the country's northeast. She started surfing with her older brother when she was five.

She got the hang of it quickly, and fell in love with surfing.

But the Great East Japan Earthquake struck in March 2011.

The coast she called home was badly damaged. It became impossible to surf there.

That was when her mother, Shuko, decided to move to Ichinomiya, 400 kilometers south of Sendai, so that her daughter could continue to surf.

Since then, Shuko has continued to assist Kana’s growth as an athlete.

"I want to support Kana and let her do what she loves to do," says Shuko. "It’s not a strain on me, and I will continue to do my best."

Shuko put down roots in Ichinomiya, so that Kana could concentrate on surfing.

"We ended up buying a house, even though I had been planning to return to Sendai," says Shuko.

"We can’t go back now. I had been renting, with plans to return, but the kids wanted to surf."

Kana works on building her lower body strength. A girl her size needs more muscle in order to tackle big waves.

Kana is taking part in the Women's World Qualifying Series 3000, an international competition to be held in Ichinomiya.

"I want to win at the QS3000 and other competitions, as a way of thanking my mother," she says.

For Kana, the QS3000 is her first step onto the world stage.

"I want to compete with the top surfers, to see how well I stack up against them,” she says.

The international competition features 270 contestants from 20 countries.

Points are awarded for speed, power, flow and maneuvers.

Kana is competing with some of the best surfers in the world.

She starts well and gets the top score in her heat.

In the next round she isn't so lucky. While the other competitors get high scores, Kana has trouble with her footing.

Her first attempt at taking on the world ends with a fall.

Kana now knows how tough it is to take on world-class surfers.

And her biggest goal is just three years away -- she has her sights set firmly on the Tokyo Olympics.