Gabriel Medina’s foray into surfing has been described as “meteoric,” with his recent success igniting a surfing fever across Brazil.
In 2011, his WCT (World Championship Tour) rank was 12th; in 2012, he would move up to 7th; a year later, he would slip down to 14th, but in 2014, Gabriel Medina Pinto Ferreira would grab the number one spot in the ASP World Championship Tour, with 39 heat wins and an average score of 14.47.
Gabriel Medina would make history, becoming the first ever Brazilian pro surfer to nab the ASP World Champion title. The Sao Paolo-born surfer has not only carved a stellar career, at just 20 years old; he has also helped put Maresias, the once sleepy town where he was raised, smack dab on the surfing map.
As a result, Maresias has transformed into the “new break in town,” boasting of long, intense hollow barrels, and edging out surf destinations Snapper Rocks and Cocoa Beach. Incidentally, Gabriel credits much of the so-called moody breaks in Maresias for giving him the good foundation he needed to do all the manoeuvres on the ASP Tour. Experts in the field also point out that Gabriel’s training in Maresias has paved the way for his victories in the Fiji Pro and the Billabong Pro Teahupoo in Tahiti.
But when did it all began?
Gabriel didn’t actually dream of becoming a pro surfer. He was, in fact, gunning to become a football player. When he learned to surf though, his stepfather, who became mentor and coach, instantly recognised the young lad’s talent for riding waves. A local junior’s coach spotted Gabriel when he was 8 years old, noting the would-be champ’s unique speed and excellent wave reading skill. From then on, Gabriel started training and it wasn’t long before he would win competitions.
The Brazilian pro surfer recalls taking risks, even at a young age, loving the powerful and tubular waves and using the smaller waves for training in Maresias. By the time he reached 11, Gabriel had already won his first national championship at the Rip Curl Grom Search in Rio. At 15, the Brazilian surfer was the youngest to have won the ASP Junior Tour. To date, he is also the youngest pro surfer to join the ASP World Champions Tour — that’s among the top 34 best in the entire world.
At 20, Gabriel is already making huge waves in surfing, fulfilling history with his ASP title and becoming one of the highest paid surfers in the world. Not bad for a kid who grew up wanting to be a football player.