Italo Ferreira became the first surfer to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
The Brazilian won the Tokyo 2020 final against Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi in what was the first time there has been a category for the sport that involves chasing waves.
“I came to Japan with a motto: say amen to incoming gold,” he confessed. “I had this sentence written next to my bed,” Ferreira explained. “I prayed every morning at 3 in the morning, asking god he would make this dream come true. There you go, my name in the history of surfing, ”he said after winning the gold medal.
“I have trained a lot in the last few months, and God made my dream come true, I can only thank god for giving me the opportunity to do what I love. It’s me, I went into the water without pressure, doing what I love, “he said visibly moved.
In an Instagram post with photos from the awards ceremony, Ferreira wrote: “Thank you my God, all glory to you”.
Ferreira qualified for the Olympics after winning the World Surfing Championship in 2019, also in Japan. But the circumstances almost prevented him from competing.
Ferreira was training in the United States when, just before heading to Japan, someone burst into his car and stole several goods, including his passport and the travel visa to enter the Asian country.
He got new documents just in time to fly, but then a typhoon delayed his flight by more than 18 hours.
When he finally got to Japan, his competition stage had already started, and he got to shore just in time to compete, using a board that another surfer had loaned him. He went into the water for his first performance wearing the same shorts he wore on the plane.
In the minutes remaining for the end of the first competition, Italo managed to score for two waves, and qualified for the second leg. He would eventually win the competition, qualifying for the Olympics.
The Brazilian was born in a poor family, and was discovered in the city of Natal by a talent scout. “I went to the beach, got out of the car and saw this kid doing a 360 air,” says Luiz ‘Pinga’ Campos in an interview with the World Surf League. “Another 360 tune. I asked the guys over there, “What’s the kid’s name?” ‘The kid is Italo’ ”.
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– The very first Olympic gold medal in surfing: “I prayed every morning at 3 am”