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Florence crowned World Surfing champion

AAP logoAAP 24/10/2016

Hawaiian John John Florence has confirmed his status as one of the spearheads of surfing's generation next after breaking through for his maiden world title.

The 24-year-old had his 2016 tour win confirmed when he took out the Portugal Pro at Peniche, downing American Conner Coffin 16.67 to 9.93 in the final.

"I don't even know (how I feel) right now, it's so much to take in," he said.

"I'm just stoked. I can't believe I'm the world champ. It's craziness, there's a lot of emotions."

He became the first Hawaiian to win the crown in 12 years when South African Jordy Smith was eliminated in the semi-finals.

Going into Tuesday, Smith was the only competitor who could beat Florence on the points tally.

After eliminating American Kolohe Andino 13.84 to 8.47 in the semis, Florence faced a nervous wait to see if Smith could meet him in the final to keep the title race alive.

But when Coffin eliminated Smith, Florence was confirmed as the first Hawaiian to win the championship since Andy Irons in 2004.

"It's been a dream of mine ever since I was a little kid watching Andy and Kelly (Slater) and those guys battle for world titles," he said.

"To win it here and not have the stress of taking it to Pipe, it's pretty good. I get to relax and surf my favourite wave in the world."

Along with the likes of 2014 tour winner Gabriel Medina, from Brazil, Florence represents the exciting young crop of surfers coming through the ranks.

Florence's previous best season was his third placing in 2014.

Victory in Portugal followed on from his win in Brazil in May as well as second placings in South Africa and Tahiti and third in France.

He will now head to his home event, the Pipe Masters in Oahu, with the world title safely in tow.

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