Team USA celebrates Team Gold Medal. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed
The surf pumped throughout a dramatic finals day in Pismo Beach for the 2021 ISA World Para Surfing Games, leading home-team USA to their second gold medal in the Para Surfing Team Championship.
Team USA acquired a trilogy of gold medals courtesy of Liv Stone, Sarah Bettencourt and Jose Martinez. The two women used a combination of clever heat strategy and solid surfing to back up their 2020 wins in Stand 1 and Prone 1 respectively, while Martinez pushed his teammate Jesse Billauer to the bitter end in the last heat of the day, the Men’s Prone 2 final.
“I’m always proud to be a veteran, but this is on the ultimate level,” said Martinez. “To represent my country for a new sport that’s coming out, that I see as absolutely epic and is going to be so meaningful for the rest of the world, not just for us. I am grateful and I am honored.”
Melissa Reid (ENG) made it three in a row Photo: ISA / Ben Reed
Four former champions find magic in the number three
The number three was the order of the day for four returning champions who each claimed their third gold medal. Para Surfing pioneers Mark “Mono” Stewart (AUS) and Alcino “Pirata” Neto both saw themselves back on top, while Victoria Feige (CAN) and Melissa Reid (ENG) made it three in a row, as the first two women to win three gold medals in Para Surfing history.
“The girls are all charging and I love to see that,” said Feige. “I think we’re going to keep raising the level of adaptive surfing.”
Victoria Feige (CAN) Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
Sarah Bettencourt (USA) Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
Liv Stone (USA) Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
Roy Calderon and Jimena Ruiz deliver first wins for Costa Rica
Costa Rica achieved their first two Para Surfing gold medals, with both Roy Calderon and Jimena Ruiz improving on previous results to find success in Men’s Visually Impaired 2 and Women’s Stand 2 respectively.
“I worked three shifts and gave up all of my vacation time to pay for my travel,” Calderon said. “I’m so happy to win this for all of Costa Rica!”
Audrey Pascual adding another medal for team Spain Photo: ISA / Sean Evans
Two women found themselves wearing gold around their necks for the first time. In the Women’s Visually Impaired 1 final Marta Paço (POR) put early pressure on the rest of the field and didn’t let up on her way to a convincing win. A dynamic final defined Joyce Neumueller’s (AUS) victory in Women’s Prone 2, with the lead constantly changing before she posted an 8.00 and sealed the deal in her first appearance on the international stage.
Outstanding performances across multiple divisions raise the bar
Leaving his best for last, Fellipe Kizu Lima, opened the Sit final with the highest single wave score of the event, a 9.83. With a backup of an 8.93, the Brazilian accumulated a total of 18.76 to deliver the highest heat score of the championship and beat his own previous record of the second highest total in Para Surfing history.
Brazilian legend Alcino “Pirata” Neto was challenged by new generation athletes. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed
It was team Israel who saw themselves victorious in Men’s Stand 2. The ever-exuberant Adi Klang kissed the sand as he clung to his nation’s flag, an impressive performance increasing his gold medal count. Klang’s teammate Nachman Balulu won his first silver medal.
Also going one and two for their country, defending champion of Men’s Stand 1, Mike Richards Vaz (BRA), collected his second gold medal over his teammate Jonathan Borba in silver, though Richards left it to the final moments to catch the wave that took him from fourth place to first.
Hansen retains record as Para Surfing’s most successful
Men’s Prone 1 brought the drama as Hawaii’s Casey Proud came convincingly close to taking the win away from the undefeated Bruno Hansenof Denmark. However, Hansen retained his record as the winningest participant in Para Surfing history, earning himself an unprecedented sixth gold medal.
Sending his love around the world, Hansen said, “I’d like to dedicate this to all the teams that couldn’t make it to this event this year. This gold medal is for you guys.”
Roy Calderon from Costa Rica and the first gold for the team. Photo: ISA / Ben Reed
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
The getting together of the top para surfers of the world at the ISA World Championship matters a lot.
Firstly, for the actual competitors and their families and friends at home.
Secondly for the thousands and thousands of para surfers around the world.
Thirdly for the people with different abilities that today don’t surf for any reason.
And finally for the rest of the world as a way to remember that impossible is nothing.
Para Surfing belongs in the Paralympic Games. Getting in is as difficult as getting in the Olympic Games. And I know something about this subject.
But two days ago, the Executive Board of the IOC voted to include surfing as a permanent sport in the Olympics. So, getting in the Paralympic Games might be a bit easier now.
And last, but certainly not the least, I wanted to share my biggest hope: I hope that this event brings hope to the rest of the world. Making the world better through surfing and para surfing.
Thank you Pismo.
Peace, love and surf!!!”
Gold – Victoria Feige (CAN)
Silver – Noemi Alvarez (CHI)
Bronze – Audrey Pascaul (ESP)
Copper – Ana Barbara Garcia (MEX)
Gold – Mark Stewart (AUS)
Silver – Altair Olivares (CHI)
Bronze – Llewelyn Williams (WAL)
Copper – Henrique Saraiva (BRA)
Women’s Visually Impaired 2
Gold – Melissa Reid (ENG)
Silver – Sarah Jane Gibson (AUS)
Bronze – Ling Pai (CAN)
Copper – Celia Gramse (ESP)
Men’s Visually Impaired 2
Gold – Roy Calderon (CRC)
Silver – Miguel Flavio (BRA)
Bronze – Aaron Paulk (HAW)
Copper – Matt Formston (AUS)
Women’s Visually Impaired 1
Gold – Marto Paço (POR)
Silver – Carmen Lopez (ESP)
Bronze – Barbie Pacheco (USA)
Men’s Visually Impaired 1
Gold – Elias Figue Diel (BRA)
Silver – Kirk Watson (AUS)
Bronze – Ben Neumann (GER)
Copper – Aitor Francesena (ESP)
Gold – Fellipe Kizu Lima (BRA)
Silver – Ethan Kairer (USA)
Bronze – Juan Camacho (CRC)
Copper – Alana Nichols (USA)
Women’s Stand 1
Gold – Liv Stone (USA)
Silver – Catalina Salamanca (CHI)
Bronze – Darian Haynes (USA)
Copper – Chikato Takao (JPN)
Men’s Stand 1
Gold – Mike Richards Vaz (BRA)
Silver – Jonathan Borba (BRA)
Bronze – Harrison Doi (HAW)
Copper – Camilo Abdula (POR)
Women’s Prone 1
Gold – Sarah Bettencourt (USA)
Silver – Claudia Palacios (CHI)
Bronze – Minoshka Solis (CRC)
Copper – Katherine Beattie (USA)
Men’s Prone 1
Gold – Bruno Hansen (DEN)
Silver – Casey Proud (HAW)
Bronze – Nicolas Gallegos (ARG)
Copper – Miguel Rojas (CHI)
Men’s Stand 3
Gold – Alcino Neto (BRA)
Silver – Colin Cook (HAW)
Bronze – Dariel Melendez (CRC)
Copper – Martin Diaz Martinez (MEX)
Women’s Stand 2
Gold – Jimena Ruiz (CRC)
Silver – Malu Mendes (BRA)
Bronze – Maria Granizo (ESP)
Copper – Charlotte Banfield (ENG)
Men’s Stand 2
Gold – Adi Klang (ISR)
Silver – Nachman Balulu (ISR)
Bronze – Philippe Naud (FRA)
Copper – Baldir Vallejos (CRC)
Women’s Prone 2
Gold – Joyce Neumueller (AUS)
Silver – Sarah Almargo (ESP)
Bronze – Samantha Bloom (AUS)
Copper – Hannah Dines (ENG)
Men’s Prone 2
Gold – Jose Martinez (USA)
Silver – Jesse Billauer (USA)
Bronze – Claudio Morales (CHI)
Copper – Tomoki Fujiwara (JPN)
Gold – USA
Silver – Spain
Bronze – Brazil
Copper – Costa Rica