Led by a pair of Visually Impaired Gold Medals, Team Spain rose to the top of Para Surfing to earn their historic first-ever Team Gold Medal at the 2020 AmpSurf ISA World Para Surfing Championship.
Spain’s Aitor Francesena earned his second Gold Medal in the event’s history in Men’s Visually Impaired 1, while teammate Carmen Garcia earned her first Title in Women’s Visually Impaired 1. The dual Gold Medals coupled with six other podium finishes propelled Spain to the pole position, their first Team Medal since the event’s inception in 2015.
“I was only hoping to do my best,” said Garcia. “The most gratifying part of all of this has been continuing to improve as a surfer and now to have the chance to defend a title at the next edition.”
Team USA, the previous Team World Champion in 2018, earned the Silver Medal, with Team Brazil earning Bronze and Hawaii Copper.
Denmark’s Bruno Hansen continued his unbroken streak earning Gold in each edition of the event, taking home his fifth consecutive prone World Title.
“It feels surreal to win my fifth Gold Medal,” said Hansen. “I felt really focused and driven this year.
“This goes out to a lot of the athletes here that are my heroes. Some of them are in a worse condition than I am and they surf better than I do. I’d like to share this Gold Medal with all those people out there.
“I see Adaptive Surfing going from strength to strength every year. I hope there is a great future for the kids and they can be an inspiration to the rest of the people in the world.”
Experience proved to be valuable for those who had earned Gold Medals in previous editions of the event, as nine of the sixteen individual Gold Medalists were repeat World Champions.
Those who added to their medal count included Hansen (DEN), Victoria Feige (CAN), Alcino ‘Pirata’ Neto (BRA), Jeff Munson (USA), Melissa Reid (ENG), Matthew Formston (AUS), Aitor Francesena (ESP), Sam Bloom (AUS), and Jesse Billauer (USA).
New athletes also emerged onto the global stage of Para Surfing, earning their first-ever titles in the event’s history and exemplifying the extensive growth of the sport in the event’s five-year history.
The first-time Gold Medalists were Carmen Lopez (ESP), Colin Cook (HAW), Roberto Pino (BRA), Malu Mendes (BRA), Sarah Bettencourt (USA), Liv Stone (USA), and Mike Vaz (BRA).
The top performance of the day belonged to England’s Melissa Reid who successfully defended her Title in the Women’s Visually Impaired 2 Division with a heat total of 17.17.
“When I heard my final wave score out there, my coach and I almost jumped off our boards, crying with happiness,” said Reid. “It’s been an incredible experience.
“Getting into surfing has given me more enjoyment in life more than anything. Surfing has changed my life and I just feel so lucky to be a part of this global community.”
The most drama-packed heat of the day came down to the Men’s Prone 2 Division, where USA’s Jesse Billauer and Jose Martinez faced off against Brazil’s Davi Teixeira and Eduardo Mayr.
Billauer and Teixeira are no strangers, as Billauer out-surfed Teixeira in 2015 for his first Gold Medal, then Teixeira returned the favor in 2016 to earn his maiden ISA Gold.
Billauer, Teixeira, and Martinez all opened up strong with excellent 8 point rides.
Teixeira held the lead until the dying moments of the heat, however a last ditch effort by Billauer earned him a solid 7.9 point back up score to surpass Teixeira and claim his second Gold Medal, his first since 2015.
Teixeira earned the Silver, Martinez the Copper, and Mayr the Bronze.
Uruguay’s 15-year-old Isabella Desseno earned a Copper Medal in the Women’s Prone 2 Division. The medal for Desseno was a great success in her debut participation in the World Championship, making her country proud.
“Winning a medal in the World Championship is something that I wouldn’t have ever believed,” said Desseno. “The best part of this event has been getting to meet people from other countries.
“Even though I may not have won a Gold Medal this time, I made lots of friends and met incredible people. Our friendships will continue through other Adaptive Surfing events around the world.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre on a historic day of Para Surfing: "Through a week of heavy downpours, team camaraderie, world-class surfing, and inspirational displays of perseverance, history has been made in La Jolla.
“A record-breaking 131 athletes from varying backgrounds, religions, races, and social classes united to celebrate a sport that has changed all of the competitors’ lives for the better. By spreading the innate stoke and joy of surfing, we strive to continue making the world a better place through surfing.
“What we witnessed this week is a testament to the fact that the sport of Para Surfing is on the rise around the globe. We had more competitors, a higher level of surfing, professional classification processes, and an expert judging panel, all steps that we hope will one day take Para Surfing onto greatest stage of sport, the Paralympic Games.
“I would like to send my sincere thanks to all competitors for putting in the hard work to come here and represent your nation. It is through this community that our ambassadors strengthen our message and movement around the globe.”
To access video highlights, webcast replays, results, and photos from the competition, visit www.isasurf.org/para-surfing.
View full results here.
Gold – Spain
Silver – USA
Bronze – Brazil
Copper – Hawaii
Men’s Stand 1
Gold – Mike Vaz (BRA)
Silver – Jonathan Borba (BRA)
Bronze – Antony Smyth (RSA)
Copper – Ibon Muguerza (ESP)
Women’s Stand 1
Gold – Liv Stone (USA)
Silver – Faith Lennox (HAW)
Bronze – Zoe Giannini (ARG)
Copper – Catalina Castro (CHI)
Men’s Stand 2
Gold – Roberto Pino (BRA)
Silver – Philippe Naud (FRA)
Bronze – JP Veaudry (RSA)
Copper – Adi Klang (ISR)
Women’s Stand 2
Gold – Malu Mendes (BRA)
Silver – Charlotte Banfield (ENG)
Bronze – Jimena Ruiz (CRC)
Copper – Maria Martin-Granizo (ESP)
Men’s Stand 3
Gold – Colin Cook (HAW)
Silver – Eric Dargent (FRA)
Bronze – Naomichi Katukura (HAW)
Gold – Alcino Neto (BRA)
Silver – Mark Stewart (AUS)
Bronze – Henrique Savaira (BRA)
Copper – Llywelyn Williams (WAL)
Gold – Victoria Feige (CAN)
Silver – Noemi Alvarez (CHI)
Bronze – Paloma Onate (ESP)
Copper – Audrey Pascual (ESP)
Men’s Prone 1
Gold – Bruno Hansen (DEN)
Silver – Marcos Tapia (ESP)
Bronze – Daniel de la Vega (MEX)
Copper – Gavin Bellis (AUS)
Women’s Prone 1
Gold – Sarah Bettencourt (USA)
Silver – Tracy McKay (RSA)
Bronze – Ann Yoshida (HAW)
Copper – Isabella Desseno (URU)
Men’s Prone 2
Gold – Jesse Billauer (USA)
Silver – Davi Teixeira (BRA)
Bronze – Jose Martinez (USA)
Copper – Eduardo Mayr (BRA)
Women’s Prone 2
Gold – Sam Bloom (AUS)
Silver – Noluthando Makalima (RSA)
Bronze – Georgina Melatini (ARG)
Copper – Katell Ropert (FRA)
Men’s Visually Impaired 1
Gold – Aitor Francesena (ESP)
Silver – Elias Ricardo Diel (BRA)
Bronze – Henry Martinez (CRC)
Copper – Joshua Loya (USA)
Women’s Visually Impaired 1
Gold – Carmen Lopez (ESP)
Silver – Barbie Pacheco (USA)
Men’s Visually Impaired 2
Gold – Matthew Formston (AUS)
Silver – Roy Calderon (CRC)
Bronze – Aaron Paulk (HAW)
Copper – Shigeru Fujisaki (JPN)
Women’s Visually Impaired 2
Gold – Melissa Reid (ENG)
Silver – Ling Pai (CAN)
Bronze – Celia Gramse (ESP)
Copper – Lou Mechiche (FRA)
Gold – Jeff Munson (USA)
Silver – Alana Nichols (USA)
Bronze – Charles Webb (USA)
Copper – Ethan Kairer (USA)