Gabriel Medina, 27, three-time world surfing champion, ended an historic season of Brazilian surfing.
There are four Brazilians among the best surfers in the world: Medina himself, Filipe Toledo (2nd), Italo Ferreira (3rd) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (runner-up in women). The country has won five of the last seven world titles for men, as well as Italo’s gold in the sport's debut at the Olympics.
"We never thought that one day we would become a world surfing power. When I was starting, back there, I remember that we were celebrating ninth place, being fifth it was absurd!" he told Folha.
Medina admits it was an atypical season. He changed coaches, suffered controversies with the Olympic Committee in Brazil because of his wife Yasmin Brunet, then lost a stage of the Worlds for not having been vaccinated.
But he managed to win his third world championship. "Since I became champion for the first time [in 2014], the next goal was to be tri, like my references, Ayrton Senna, Pelé and Mick Fanning."
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon