"To get barreled in a contest and win the gold representing your country, there's no more powerful feeling," the 2023 WSL Champ tells PEOPE exclusively
Caroline Marks is going for gold!
The 21-year-old surfer clinched the coveted 2023 World Surf League Championship Title over the weekend, defeating five-time winner and Olympic gold medalist Carissa Moore — and after upsetting the reining champ in the Rip Curl WSL Finals, Marks is hungry for a medal of her own.
"I believe in myself that I can do it," Marks tells PEOPLE exclusively on Monday. "To get barreled in a contest and win the gold representing your country, there's no more powerful feeling. That would be really special."
While on her road to victory amid the final contest held at Lower Trestles, Marks provisionally qualified for the 2024 Olympics. This means, the athlete — who who made history as the youngest female surfer to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games — will make her sophomore debut at the Olympics, representing Team USA alongside Moore once again.
"Winning the gold is an absolute dream of mine — and I love Tahiti," Marks says of the 2024 Olympic venue for surfing. "It's an incredible wave and definitely an area of my surfing that I really want to work on, even though I won the last [contest] at Teahupoʻo," where the surfing competition will be held next year.
While Marks is surely relishing in a "euphoric feeling" in the wake of her recent win, she tells PEOPLE she "definitely wants to" start thinking about the Olympics. Especially since "Teahupoʻo has so many different faces to it," she says.
"As many times as I can go there to practice and learn about the wave and just get more comfortable out there, I'll take every opportunity," she says. "Hopefully there's some swells in the off season and I get to jump over there and practice... for sure I'll be looking at that 100%."
Although the dedicated athlete is looking ahead to the future, she admits she also wants to "enjoy this moment" of winning her first-ever World Title. "It's a special moment in my life right now."
Even a few days after the big win, Marks tells PEOPLE she "doesn't know if it's completely sunken in." She explains, "Since I started surfing, every day of my life I've worked towards this goal and it came true."
"It was literally a dream scenario," Marks says — especially going head-to-head with the reining champ Moore. "I knew to win the title, I'd have to be going up against Carissa and I wanted to go up against Carissa," she says.
"To me, she's pushed the progression of women's surfing and she's had such a stellar year and she's been dominant for so many years — I was against her for my first ever CT [Championship Tour] win, and now I was against her for my first ever World Title," Marks says.
As for her mindset headed into the WSL Finals, and surely the 2024 Olympics next summer — Marks says, "I want to beat the best to be the best."
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Read the original article on People.