Interview with Gabriel Medina

Gabriel Medina. Foto – Munir El Hage

Everything in Gabriel Medina‘s life has happened very quickly. He began surfing at age 9 and by the time he was 13, he was already participating in the professional circuit. By age 15, he signed a contract with the Australian surf equipment company, Rip Curl, and became a professional. Also in 2009, Medina became the youngest male winner of an open age pro competition. He joined the world surfing elite in 2011, at the young age of 17. That year, he won two ASP World Tour events (France and USA) and he was the first Brazilian to win the Australian competition “Backside – Gold Coast Australia”. In addition to these victories, he made history when he was the first surfer ever to land the move called “backflip” (backwards somersault) in a training even.

In 2014, at age 20, he became the first Brazilian ASP World Tour champion. In the finals at Pipeline Beach in Hawaii, he beat Australian Mick Fanning and American Kelly Slater, eleven-time world champion. In May of 2016, he repeated the backflip at Oi Rio Pro – he was the first surfer to do it in an official competition. Soon after, he found out that surfing had been approved as an Olympic category at the Tokyo 2020 Games. “I want to be there and compete for a gold medal for Brazil,” states Medina.

Gabriel Medina – Foto: Fábio Maradei

In addition to his Olympic dream, the surfer is excited about the Gabriel Medina Institute, a social project he founded with his family at Maresias beach in the city of São Sebastião where he was born, and where he lives and trains to this day. “We are going to offer children and young people the ability to train in the same structure that I have today, in order to prepare for the future,” vibrates the 22 year old from São Paulo. He turned 23 on December 22. In addition to Rip Curl, Medina is also currently sponsored by Oi, Guaraná Antarctica, Coppertone, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Vult Cosmetica, Cabianca and FCS. “Many of my sponsors are from outside the surfing area. This shows how the sport is growing and gaining strength in Brazil,” says Medina, who is preparing to compete in the Pipe Masters. “I hit the crossbar twice in the last two years and my focus is on winning. Next year, my goal is to seek the bi-championship,” he warns.

“How will the inclusion of surfing in the Tokyo 2020 Games influence the sport?”
Medina – This was a battle started by Fernando Aguerre, 20 years ago. I believe that the sport already should have been included in Olympic Games, judging by the support it has today. We have enthusiasts all over the world, fans, and practitioners everywhere. At the Olympics, surfing is set to grow even more.

“And what are the possibilities for Brazilian surfing at the Tokyo 2020 Games?”
Medina – Brazil totally has a chance at a medal. Today we have strong competitors in several countries. Even some who had no surfing tradition, like Italy and Japan itself. So I think it will be very strong, but we have athletes to compete for the podium. We still don’t know how the format will be, but I really want that gold.

“How did surfing come into your life?”
Medina –“I was encouraged by my father, Charles. He gave me a board and taught me. At first I wanted to surf and have fun, but then I participated in championships, did well and had my father’s support to move on. Ever since I was a kid, I set the goal of being a world champion. My father and mother supported me and we started this dream.”

“What is your objective with the foundation of the Gabriel Medina Institute?”
Medina – This is a dream for my family. Everyone is involved. We will offer 60 children and young people, from ages 10 to 16, the same training structure that I have today. In fact, even more. They will have physical training, practice on the waves, English classes, computer classes … If I had this structure when I started, maybe I would have improved even more. We have already put together the team and the headquarters is in the final stages of construction. It was inaugurated just now in January and it’s going to be great. We’re going to transform the lives of many young people. We know that not everyone will become world champions or even professional surfers, but we want them to be good people. We’re going to work with them and their families. I built the headquarters with my own resources and now we are looking for sponsors to support the activities. Our project has already been approved by the Sports Incentive Law of the Ministry of Sports, and we are going to raise funds from interested companies. I’m going to participate in the Institute, follow these kids closely, along with my father. Sometimes giving tips, talking about my experience, sometimes just being together, laughing. I want to see everything up close.

 

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