Italo Ferreira: a troublesome journey to the Olympic gold

Nautical Channel
29 Jul 2021
NEWS | Olympics, Surf

Getting his passport stolen, delays after a typhoon and competing in jeans are some of the difficulties the Brazilian surf Olympic champion faced when achieving his Olympic qualification. 

The Olympic spirit of the newly surf Olympic gold medalist Italo Ferreira has been far from boring. He did not give up to the misfortunes on his way to the qualifiers and results have shown. Follow us on his journey from almost not being able to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games to the first champion in Olympic surfing. 

How to travel without a passport

September 8th, 2019. Ferreira is about to travel from Santa Mónica (USA) to Miyazaki (Japan) for the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games 2019. This would allow him to qualify for the Olympic Games that were supposed to take place in 2020. However, the worst was to come. 

On his way to the car he found out someone had broken in and stolen his personal belongings. This included his passport and Visa for Japan, with which he was going to fly that day to Japan. He begged the robber on social media to return his passport, as it was crucial for him to get to the competition on time. However, he was not successful and he missed the flight. 

Ferreira started the bureaucracy process with the US embassy in Japan to be able to travel to Japan to compete. For hours and hours, he called, filled in paperwork, and video called the personnel at the embassy. Finally he managed to get on a flight and leave for Japan. 

Winds of delay for Italo Ferreira

Once ready to fly to Japan Ferreira faced his second misfortune. A typhoon has caused his plane to delay. This caused him to be stuck more than 18h in transit, spending almost 24h at the airport. Time was of the essence, and looking at the clock was agony as it was almost impossible he would arrive on time for the event. 

By the time he had landed, his heat had already begun. From the airport to the beach there was a 10-minute ride. As soon as he landed he rushed through the airport, “forgetting” his luggage behind and aimed for the beach. Was he going to make it on time?

A bit of sunshine under the clouds

There is always a silver lining in all bad news. As the ocean swells and currents were not ideal at Miyazaki, the heat was delayed by an hour. This gave Ferreira a bit of margin to get on time, who otherwise would not have made it in time. 

However, when he got to the beach, his series had already begun. The 3 rivals were on the water and he only had 9 minutes to get two good waves. In short jeans, he asked his friend and rival Filipe Toledo, from Brazil, for a surfboard. 

Then, he dived into the water to do his best. In 9 minutes he had to surf two good waves and achieve at least 12 points. It was not an easy feat, and time was running out.