Italo Ferreira Won His ISA Heat on a Borrowed Board While Wearing Jorts

Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

  • Italo Ferreira needed to compete to be eligible for Tokyo 2020
  • Arrived just in time and won heat wearing denim shorts
Robbed of his passport in the USA, delayed by a hurricane as he entered Japan, Italo Ferreira’s Olympic dream looked to have been wiped out by a series of unfortunate events as he attempted to get to the the ISA World Games in Miyazaki. But having wrestled his way through red tape and raced to the beach – where he arrived nine minutes before the expiry time for his scheduled slot – Ferreira grabbed a borrowed board and won his heat wearing denim shots.

“If you have a problem in your life, do not give up. Believe! In the end, it will be all right, just believe it is possible,” said Ferreira, after his incredible victory. The 25-year-old surfer, who needed to compete in Japan to ensure he would eligible for the Tokyo Olympics, described in detail on his Instagram account the setbacks he suffered before arriving for the event.

“I was robbed four days ago in the United States. In my backpack, which they carried, I had some personal belongings and the most important document for a person traveling and not even able to speak the local language perfectly: the passport. This was me. Not knowing where to go, and on the same day I had a scheduled flight to Japan to compete in an essential world event in search of a place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo,” wrote Ferreira.

“The day after the theft, I had help from some people from Brazil, the United States, and even Japan. They tried to help me with a new passport, a Japanese visa, and the most difficult one: the American visa. All the information said it was best for me to leave the United States to redo everything (make an appointment, schedule an appointment, etc.) at the American Consulate. So I left the United States on September 8 and embarked for Tokyo, with an interview scheduled for the following day. It all seemed normal, but [then] MY FLIGHT WAS DELAYED BECAUSE OF A HURRICANE – I even stayed 18 hours on the plane. That is, I would not be able to arrive in time for the interview at the consulate in Japan.

“So I rescheduled for 8:30 on September 10, the first day of the competition, not sure that the visa would be approved. I was confident and happy, even after all, just coming to Japan. The visa was approved, I left my passport at the American Consulate and started another mission. I rushed to Tokyo Airport for the first flight to the city where I would compete. My heat was sixth in Round 1, but the event was delayed one hour and this gave me a small chance of getting to ‘time.’

“When I landed at the airport, I ran: I dropped my bags and went straight to the car of the Brazilian committee that was waiting for me. My heat had already started and it took 10 minutes from the airport to the beach. Arriving at the podium, nine minutes left for my heat to run out. I entered the water with the last priority [on a] borrowed board and needing a combination of 12 points to advance. So far everything was going ‘OK’ because I ‘just’ needed to surf and do what I love most in a short time. Looking back, I had everything to go wrong with so much going on, but I always had hope until the end. This for me was a story of overcoming, even though it is a championship that does not ‘count’ for the classification of the Olympics because I am seeking my classification by the WSL ranking. I had to be in Japan otherwise I missed the chance and could make myself [ineligible] to the job.”

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