Italo Ferreira has earned his place in Olympic history…
The 27-year-old Brazilian professional surfer overcame challenging conditions in brilliant style to win historic first Olympic surfing gold medals at the 2020 Tokyo Games on Tuesday.
Competing at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach, Ferreira recovered from breaking his board on the first wave to beat Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi in the shortboard final.
Australia’s Owen Wright took the men’s bronze after a tense 35-minute battle with world number one Gabriel Medina, edging out the Brazilian by two-tenths of a point.
The final day of competition started with big, clean waves that delighted the competitors, but a strong onshore breeze picked up to make the swell choppier and more inconsistent with good waves harder to come by.
It made no difference to Ferreira as he went on the attack in pursuit of Olympic gold.
Knowing he had done enough to win, Ferreira began surfing his way in to the shore with a minute to go, greeting the final horn with his arms stretched to the heavens before being carried shoulder-high from the water by his teammates.
“I think it’s one of the best days of my life, for sure. For me that was a long day and it was a dream come true, for sure. The last couple of months I’ve been training a lot, just to live in this moment,” an emotional Ferreira told reporters.
He also gave Ferreira the first gold for Brazil at the Tokyo Games.