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By Nathan Frandino
(Reuters) - Surfing gold medal hopeful Carissa Moore delighted locals in a small surfing town southwest of Tokyo on Wednesday when she gave a speech in Japanese to thank them for hosting Team USA's pre-Games training camp.
"We love Makinohara, the waves were a little small, but the beach was beautiful and we had a lot of fun," Moore said of the town located about 200 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. "The hotel, food, beach, and waves were all wonderful, and the people of Makinohara have kindly shown us hospitality. We are truly thankful."
Moore, a four-time world champion who hopes to attain gold when the sport debuts at the Tokyo games, studied Japanese for several years in middle school and high school in Hawaii.
On Wednesday, she also presented Mayor Kikuo Sugimoto with a gift of banana nut butter, made by her husband's business back in Hawaii which uses locally grown bananas.
Several dozen community members cheered while waving U.S. flags for the surfing delegation. A banner in front read "Makinohara will support you!! Do your best!!"
The surfing events are due to start on July 25.
(Reporting by Nathan Frandino in Tokyo with translation by Andrew Bibee; Editing by Hugh Lawson)