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By Jake Howard
With the pulsating swells of a typhoon and the eyes of the world, American Carissa Moore and Brazilian Italo Ferreira became the first Olympic gold medalists in surfing.
After three straight days of fierce competition featuring 40 of the world’s most elite surfers, they’ve made their way to the top of the podium and made history along the way.
For Moore, this moment is the culmination of a life in the competitive arena. With four world titles to her name, and potentially a fifth coming in September at the Rip Curl WSL Finals at Lower Trestles, the gold medal solidifies her place as one of the greatest competitive surfers of all time. Growing up in Hawaii, winning several NSSA national titles at Lowers as a child, by the time she was old enough to drive, the question was not whether she would make a successful transition to the world stage, but until ‘where she could go. It turns out, quite far.
Trusting her boards beautifully crafted by Matt Biolos of San Clemente, the 28-year-old has made it through every round of Olympic competition. A clear favorite from start to finish, when Finals day arrived with a typhoon swell, though mixed, Moore was in perfect rhythm. In the final, she faced seasoned veteran Bianca Buitendag from South Africa.
âThe scale of this event seemed so much greater,â Moore said afterwards. âSharing the sport with so many people who maybe never even watched surfing was super special. As a Hawaiian, just seeing Duke Kahanamoku’s dream of surfing at the Olympics come true is super special It’s a great time for surfing to be recognized at this level.
For Ferreira, the timing couldn’t have been better scripted for television. Son of a fisherman in BaÃa Formosa, Brazil, he first learned to surf on the lid of his father’s polystyrene cooler. His raw talent was noticed by Luiz âPingaâ Campos, who discovered and led a number of top Brazilian surfers over the years, including world champion Adriano de Souza and Jadson Andre. Pinga brought Ferreira to San Clemente shaper Timmy Patterson when he was just 12. They have been working together ever since.
In 2019, Ferreira won the world title and became widely known as “the people’s champion”. And now, with a gold medal, Ferreira has taken his act to a whole different level.
âAll the surfers have made history here. Every surfer has a piece of that gold, âsaid Ferreira. âIt was quite a story for me. I started surfing a cooler top when I was a kid, before I got my first real board and won my first event. Because of [my upbringing], I have a lot of passion for sport. I truly believe the Olympics will change our lives. Not just the medalists, but for all the surfers who took part in this historic event. “
Local surfers Kolohe Andino and Caroline Marks were in the mix on the day of the finals and had a solid race on the podium. Andino showed sharpness throughout the competition, but found himself on the losing side of a fierce quarter-final battle against Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi, who ultimately finished the Games with a silver medal. .
Marks had a shot at winning the bronze medal, but like Andino, she found herself trapped by a Japanese surfer, Amuro Tsuzuki. Marks, who is only 19, is sure to have more Olympic opportunities, since the 2024 Games will be held at Teahupoo in Tahiti, then in 2028, they will land in Los Angeles.
All in all, surfing’s Olympic debut should be viewed as a resounding success. At Moore and Ferreira, we have gold medals which are incredible ambassadors for the sport. And with surfing now even more present on the world stage, the opportunities for future generations are wide open.
âI hope the enthusiasm and joy of our sport resonates around the world and shows people how sport can be used to bring about positive social change,â said ISA President Fernando Aguerre, who been the primary driver of surfing’s rise to the Olympics for over a year. than the past decade.
âThis moment was an important step in our mission to make the world a better place through surfing,â he added.
Jake Howard is a local surfer and freelance writer who lives in San Clemente. Former editor-in-chief of Surfer Magazine, The Surfer’s Journal and ESPN, he now writes for a number of publications including Picket Fence Media, Surfline and the World Surf League. He also works with philanthropic organizations such as the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center and the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation.
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